In his newest book, Msgr. Peter Vaghi hopes to help Catholics encounter Jesus in the new year, and in every day of their lives, so they can deepen their faith and share it with others.

Msgr. Vaghi's new book, Encountering Jesus in Word, Sacraments and Works of Charity, published by Ave Maria Press, offers readers a spiritual and pastoral guide for meeting Jesus, and walking with him in their everyday lives, just as the first disciples did more than 2,000 years ago.

"There's a yearning today to meet Jesus and come to know him," said Msgr. Vaghi, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who serves as the pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda.

That personal encounter with Jesus, the priest said, is a concept that bridges the papacies of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

The title of book is inspired by teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, who emphasized that Christian faith springs from an encounter with Jesus. Msgr. Vaghi writes that encounter of love "is the basis of our friendship with him" and is a personal relationship.

He notes that pope Benedict XVI in one of his first homilies said, "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."

In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est ("God is Love"), Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable."

That three-fold responsibility of the Church forms not only the title, but also the framework of Msgr. Vaghi's new book. "We encounter the risen Lord (today) in all these ways," in the Word of God, the sacraments and through works of charity, the priest said in an interview.

In the book, Msgr. Vaghi wrote that two days after being elected pope, Pope Francis noted the mission of the Catholic Church and its members: "to bring Jesus Christ to mankind and to lead mankind to an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, truly present in the Church and also in every person."

Msgr. Vaghi is the author of the Pillar of Faith series, four books on the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Faith We Profess (on the Creed), The Sacraments We Celebrate, The Commandments We Keep, and The Prayer We Offer, also published by Ave Maria Press.

The new book is drawn largely from talks that Msgr. Vaghi has given at his parish and to the John Carroll Society, a group of Catholic professional men and women which he serves as chaplain.

In the foreword to Encountering Jesus, Cardinal Donald Wuerl praises the book as a manual that will help Catholics carry out the work of evangelization, which he said is not a program, but a way of life. "It is a way of living out our baptismal vocation in our family and with our coworkers and neighbors... our ability to evangelize opens up endless possibilities, from an act of kindness for a coworker, to caring lovingly for an aging parent or a sick child, to inviting a friend we know is far from the Lord to Mass."

The cardinal called the book "a beautiful and thoughtful study...(that) comes out of the heart of a seasoned preacher, successful teacher, and committed evangelizer."

Msgr. Vaghi wrote the book in sections that highlight ways to encounter Jesus today through the Word of God, in the sacraments and through works of charity, and he illustrates each chapter with biblical stories, and concludes each chapter with points to reflect on, and a prayer.

In the book's first chapter, Msgr. Vaghi notes how St. Peter is a role model for what it means to be an evangelizer for Christ, and he points to Luke 5:1-11, the call of Peter, the fisherman, when Jesus got in the boat with him and said, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."

The priest noted how the crowd was pressing in on Jesus, and they encountered him in person and through his Word, his teaching. Peter obeyed Jesus's command and took a risk that changed his life, and helped him transform the lives of others.

Just as Jesus was with Peter in the boat, so too he is with us, in the boats of our everyday lives, Msgr. Vaghi writes, adding that like Peter, we are called to follow the Word of God, and "put out into the deep" and cast our nets by sharing our faith with family members, friends and coworkers who may have drifted away from practicing the faith or never heard the Good News of Jesus. The priest writes that it is ultimately "God's grace, his amazing grace, that brings us to him over and over again and strengthens us in our vocation to be his followers and evangelizers, sharing and witnessing to the Gospel each and every day."

Msgr. Vaghi writes how the parable of the sower in Matthew 13: 1-23 offers insights on the importance of receiving God's living Word, which "is communicated to us in sacred Scripture and the living tradition of the Church."

Msgr. Vaghi emphasizes the importance of reading Scripture every day, even amid the daily distractions of everyday life: "The more we read prayerfully and study his Word, the more likely we will understand the depth and beauty of God's living voice."

In a chapter on the Incarnate Word Jesus, Msgr. Vaghi notes that Christ "was born at Christmas and dwells among us still."

The priest encourages today's Christians to encounter the infant Jesus anew, through the five witnesses, by praising God like the angels, by being drawn to Jesus in our own poverty and weakness as the shepherds were, by exchanging our gifts with Jesus and others as the Magi did, and by being inspired by the steadfast faith of Joseph and Mary, who were present to Jesus as we should be.

In the section on the sacraments, Msgr. Vaghi writes that Baptism is "the gateway sacrament... the most important day of our lives" that "triggers a lifetime venture, a lifetime challenge. It is a day that initiated us into a daily encounter with Christ..."

Baptism, he adds, is the source of our vocation and call to holiness, and "a gift that makes us like Christ, a gift that makes it possible for us to live with him now and forevermore."

Just as Jesus healed the paralytic, so too he offers forgiveness and healing and mercy through the sacrament of Penance, the priest writes, noting how the paralytic's friends had the courage to take bold steps to bring him to Jesus, just as we can do today for family members and friends who need Christ's love and healing.

Msgr. Vaghi writes that the the Eucharist "is the highest form of prayer" and the greatest way "where we may encounter the risen Lord," just as the the disciples did who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus and recognized him in the breaking of the bread.

The road to Emmaus reflects our daily journey of faith, Msgr. Vaghi writes: "Jesus is walking with us every day of the year and each and every moment of the day... We are part of his living body, the Church. Each time we encounter him in his body and blood and experience his living presence in the Word of God at holy Mass, we build up his body. It is as if were were on that road with him."

In the book's last section on encountering Jesus in works of charity, Msgr. Vaghi notes that "Our acts of love become acts of Christ living within us... We also meet Christ Jesus in the persons we help..."

Msgr. Vaghi writes that today's Christians, like the Good Samaritan in Jesus's parable, are "challenged to be available, not indifferently passing by," those in need, especially the suffering people in our lives, in our homes and families.

The priest also highlights Jesus's words in Matthew 25:31-46 - "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me... Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Msgr. Vaghi writes: "There is no gap between Jesus, our king, and those in need. To serve and love them is, in fact, to serve and love him." In our own hunger, thirst, nakedness, illness and prisons, and in that of others, Jesus is there, the priest writes. "Jesus' kingdom does not have geographical limits. It is the place where Jesus is here and now. His kingdom is within each and every one of us."