By Gordon Nary
Gordon: Your exceptional website provides considerable information about the more than forty books you have written, your speaking service including many of the schools at which you have lectured, and your great blog. What initially interested you in early Christianity and our Church Fathers?
Mike: When I was very young, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I was fascinated by ancient civilizations. I dreamed of finding lost cities and long-buried pyramids. Then I found out that archaeologists have to do patient, painstaking work, poking at indeterminate objects with toothpicks. THAT sounded boring. Fast-forward a couple decades, and I found myself reading an article about the recent discovery of a cache of long-lost homilies of St. Augustine. That, to me, was exciting -- like discovering a forgotten city in the desert. It caught my interest, and then it didn’t let go.
I think most of us have some interest in learning about our distant origins. Genealogy is certainly among the most popular hobbies among my age peers. And the Dead Sea Scrolls have become a cottage industry since their discovery seventy years ago.
I’m not unusual in my interest in the Christian past. I suspect my work speaks to the many folks who share my interest.
Gordon: Which of the Church Fathers has had the most influence on contemporary church teachings and why?
Mike: Augustine. He’s the saint (outside the authors of Sacred Scripture) most quoted in the Catechism, and the saint most quoted by Thomas Aquinas. He invented literary genres. He laid the cultural foundations of the middle ages. Why has he had the most influence? Because he was singularly brilliant and productive.
Gordon: Please provide our readers with an overview of your work with St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
Mike: Most of my work has been advisory. The guiding vision is Scott Hahn’s, and he’s an old and dear friend. I’ve sat on the board of trustees since the Center’s founding in 2001. I speak at the conferences and help lead the pilgrimages. I’ve published books with the Center’s imprint, Emmaus Road.
Gordon: We often revert to faith as a gift. What is your experience are the factors the contribute to and enhance faith, and what are the greatest challenges to maintaining faith
Mike: I’m a meat-and-potatoes Catholic. I think our Christian life is best enhanced by faithfulness in prayer -- sustained and disciplined prayer. We benefit most from frequent recourse to the sacraments of Confession and Holy Eucharist. For the last thirty years or so, I’ve aimed at daily Mass and weekly Confession. These are my mainstays. After that, I have to say I’ve benefited much from devotion to the guardian angels, especially those of my wife and children.
Gordon: What impact has social media had on the faith of teens and young adults?
Mike: I can’t say. It’s certainly useful for spreading the word about events and books. I’m grateful for those benefits. Like all technology, social media has its advantages and disadvantages. If we live prayerful lives, we’ll use it wisely, and God will use our use of it to advance his holy will.
Gordon: Thank you for an inspirational interview and all of your books and blog which have helped many of us learn more about the history of and practice of our faith.