James Martin, S.J.August 04, 2010

Looking for some good, solid, basic, inviting, user-friendly books on the faith?  My friend Msgr. Peter Vaghi, a fine writer, indefatigable priest and pastor of Little Flower Church in Bethesda, Md., is hard at work on a fine new series of books on our faith that would prove inordinately useful in any Catholic home, dorm, rectory, chancery, or school. I first met Msgr. Vaghi a few years ago on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, when we were seated next to one another on the rather crowded plane.  A former attorney, he’s a delightful conversationalist: energetic, intelligent, witty, articulate, forceful.  As soon as we started talking, both of us realized that while we probably wouldn't always agree on every single thing, we always agree on the basics.  (Also, both of us suffer from terminal garrulousness.  Thus, the trip from Lourdes to Baltimore passed very quickly!)

Besides the fact that (full disclosure) we’re now friends, I’m not sure why I like his books so much.  But I can venture a guess: they are at once firmly grounded in Scripture and tradition, well written, clear, orthodox, to the point--and, best of all, wonderfully concise.

This summer he is finishing The Commandments We Keep: A Catholic Guide to Living a Moral Life, the third book in the series, which should be out next spring. The first book, which has sold extremely well is The Faith We Profess: A Catholic Guide to the Apostles' Creed.  It takes the reader step-by-step through the Creed, a good idea since most of us—even me--need to be refreshed from time to time on what “one in being” means, for example.  The second book, which was published this past spring, is The Sacraments We Celebrate: A Catholic Guide to the Seven Mysteries of Faith. It shows how each of the sacraments is a transforming encounter with Christ, in his dying and rising.  It reflects the church teaching on sacramental theology as well as Msgr. Vaghi’s 25 years of pastoral work.  His zest for Catholicism and for Christ are evident in his writing; the books are "catechetical" in the best sense.

His new book, he tells me, will analyze first, “The Jewish Understanding of the Commandment”; second, “The Effect of the Christ Event on the Commandment”; and third, “Pastoral and Practical Implications of the Commandment.” He hopes later on to have a fourth book on prayer.  Overall, the series will focus on faith, sacraments, moral life and prayer, thus mirroring the four-fold foundation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church--the four pillars of our faith. 

Anyway, now you can’t say (a) you have nothing to read or (b) you have nothing to use in your parish.

And if that's still not enough reading for you, check out my ten-year list of suggested readings for Catholic book clubs here.


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
11 years 1 month ago
I am wondering if this is Vince Vaghi's brother...

The latest from america

“I found it sad that the pope has to defend himself,” Gerard O’Connell said this week on Inside the Vatican. “EWTN is based in the United States. Can not the [U.S.] Catholic bishops’ conference defend the pope on this?”
Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 23, 2021
An LGBT choir sings outside the Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin Aug. 23. (CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters)
As with much of his pastoral approach overall, the pope’s outreach to L.G.B.T. people can be characterized by the word “accompaniment.”
James Martin, S.J.September 23, 2021
The beloved artist died Sept. 23. His works are the fruit of encountering sacred texts, accompanying the vulnerable and living every moment awake to God’s loving closeness.
Cecilia González-AndrieuSeptember 23, 2021
Maybe in this time of uncertainty, fear and doubt, it would be worth recruiting some young people like BTS, Greta Thunberg or Malala Yousafzai to officially join the pope in his fight for the future of our planet.
Jim McDermottSeptember 23, 2021