PETE: A very important facit of the New Evangelization is the evangelization of the person themselves. How important do you think that is?
MSGR. PETER VAGHI: In an increasingly digital age, an age defined by the social media, it is so easy to forget that being a Christian is an “encounter” with a person, an encounter which continually changes our lives. That Person has a name. It is Jesus. He is risen and lives within us. A true evangelizer is one who shares the rich and beautiful life of Jesus living within us with others. It is the sharing of this Person and everything He continues to teach and be with others. That is the New Evangelization.
PETE: How did you decide upon the three themes you cover in your latest book….Jesus in Word, Jesus in Sacraments and Jesus in Charity?
MSGR. PETER VAGHI: I drew my inspiration from Benedict XVI’s encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est (25) where he taught that the Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility—proclaiming the Word of God, celebrating the Sacraments and exercising the Ministry of Charity. As the Church is the body of Christ, we meet Him, encounter Him, uniquely in these three ways.
PETE: After reading Encountering Jesus : In Word, Sacraments and Works of Charity I believe it lays a good foundation for someone to go out and spread the Good News. What do you think is the best strategy for someone inexperienced at evangelization?
MSGR. PETER VAGHI: The best strategy is to continue to be evangelized ourselves. We do this through daily prayer and reflection on the Scriptures and the living Tradition of the Church, through regular participation especially at the Eucharist and Penance and through intentional and concrete works of charity. We cannot give what we do not have and these three ways bring us closer to Jesus and help us in our efforts to share Him and His life with others. It gives us credibility in our efforts as well.
PETE: In addition to your new book Encountering Jesus you have also written the four volume Pillars of Faith set. Could you take some time and talk about how that set came to be and what you hope readers will gain from reading it?
MSGR. PETER VAGHI: That series is a reflection on the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a result of a series of lectures I gave over the years seeking to explain the rich teaching of our faith, the sacraments, the moral life and prayer itself to believers and non believers alike. It is being used in study groups, RCIA and other forms of adult formation.
PETE: Time for my signature ending question. This is a blog about books. What is currently on your bookshelf to read?
MSGR. PETER VAGHI: I am reading Evangelii Gaudium from Pope Francis; Letters to my Brothers by Msgr. Rossetti and Earthly Powers by Michael Burleigh.
Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi is pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. He is the author of the Pillars of Faith series, which currently includes The Faith We Profess and The Sacraments We Celebrate, and The Commandments We Keep. He has written a number of articles for America, Priest, and Our Sunday Visitor. He has also a contributed to two collections of writings on priestly spirituality: Behold Your Mother and Born of the Eucharist.