Faith and reason
On 8.09.2023, significantly the Feast of the Nativity of BV Maria, the new website www.laviadellavita.it was born. The contents, although always updated, are still those of the previous one; but the graphics and above all the possibility of moving through them and tracing them with extreme ease are very new and improved.
Think for example of the “Search” function, capable of instantly tracking down all the times a theme or word is used throughout the entire site, or the “News” section, with the immediate view of the latest news produced (the subscribing to the Newsletter, at the bottom of the page, then allows you to be notified, on the e-mail provided, of its publication), of the last 20 News produced, as well as their subdivision by years of production and even by categories!
This updating work, although driven by the need to use a new editor, allowed a significant renewal of the site. This was possible above all thanks to the precious collaboration of a christian professional (who has been following this path for years, together with his entire family), who made his time available (even during summer holidays!) and his expertise for the technical implementation of the new site. We are all very grateful to him! We are also grateful to all those who have supported this work with prayer and who have perhaps been following the site carefully for years and drawing nourishment from it for their spirit and mind.
Today, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (and the 25th anniversary of the fundamental and extraordinary Encyclical of John Paul II Fides et ratio), with this first news of the new site, we want to take the opportunity not only to briefly highlight its new functionality, but to reiterate the very meaning of this tool, made available to everyone in the vast ocean of the web.
The reference (and reference) to Fides et ratio, one of the most important encyclicals of recent decades, which Pope John Paul II (with the collaboration of the then Cardinal Ratzinger) gave to the Church and the world, in this decisive and tormented historical juncture, exactly 25 years ago, is not accidental, but could be interpreted as a humble but decisive reference that pushed and also pushes the production of this site La Via della Vita.
In fact, it is not a simple site of spirituality (although it provides many tools in this sense), nor simply of culture and current affairs (despite continuous and documented references to them), but an aid for “integral” faith formation (not integrist), that is, one that does not separate (despite the distinction) the faith from the person’s mentality, from morality (behavior), from culture (in a broad sense) and from social life itself.
Authentic Christian faith, in fact, although obviously born in the most intimate part of the person (conscience) and having to continually arise from it, cannot be relegated simply to interiority, just as it cannot be identified simply with acts of worship (see the latest News “Faith in Italy”, of 08.21.2023), but it must precisely become the light for a “true” judgment on life, on ideas, on morality, on society, on current events.
The separation between faith and culture (also in the broad sense of “mentality”) and the presence of non-Christian ideas within many Christians (even practicing ones) or today even within non-secondary sectors of the Catholic Church, constitutes an enormous drama, moreover identified and denounced by the authentic Magisterium for decades, and which can lead individual souls to confusion and even eternal damnation and society itself towards a nihilistic drift that is more and more evident today!
This painful and dangerous dichotomy between faith and culture (which then becomes separation between faith and society, culture, politics, economy… that is, with concrete public life, with great repercussions on private life too!) had already been recognized and denounced in the second half of the 19th century, that is, with the rise and social and political application of anti-Christian ideologies [in Europe with the ideologies of Modernity (see the relevant dossier), in Italy with the Risorgimento (see dossier and see document)], by the solemn Magisterium of the Church [see Blessed Pio IX (Encyclical Quanta cura + Syllabus , 8.12.1864) and Leone XIII (think only of the first social encyclical Rerum novarum, 15.05.1891).
At the beginning of the last century the Holy Pope Pio X firmly denounced how this anti-Christian mentality (concisely called “Modernism”) had subtly penetrated within the Church itself (see Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 09.08.1907)!
In the 60s of the last century – years in which the Catholic Church celebrated its 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II, 1962-1965) and the Western youth world broke out in a violent contestation of the entire past (the fateful ’68 – see document in the Archive) – this painful detachment between faith and culture (not to mention the detachment from Tradition and from the entire past!) was highlighted with particular strength and acceleration; so that Paolo VI himself , in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8.12.1975), defined this separation between faith and culture as the “tragedy of our time” (see n. 20).
A particular, huge and urgent light to recover the true faith, in all its depth, arrived under the long pontificate of John Paul II (and the support of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by its Prefect Cardinal J. Ratzinger ), with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) (english), then summarized in his Compendium (2005) (english) (see section “In the footsteps … of the Magisterium”).
We must sadly admit how this great light was generally forgotten, obscured and censored within ecclesial circles (by most of the Pastors themselves)!
A particular light on authentic faith and its moral, cultural and social consequences also and above all came from two decisive Encyclicals of John Paul II: the Veritatis splendor (6.08.1993 – on the relationship between faith and morality, that is, on the decisive but today tormented question of the relationship between “freedom and truth”) and the aforementioned Fides et ratio (14.09.1998 – on the relationship between faith and reason and therefore on the fundamental question of “truth”).
This site, therefore, with all humility but determination, albeit within the limits of limited spaces such as those permitted (in any case, the contributions offered are now very numerous), wishes to move in this integral perspective of faith, reasoned and complete.
In this sense, in addition to providing numerous aids for one’s spiritual life in the strict sense (catechesis, prayer, meditation, Confession, Eucharist), as well as for one’s moral life (law of God and sin), it presents numerous contributions for one’s Christian formation cultural and social; they certainly require a particular effort, since, despite being written in a way that is not for specialists, they must be read and even studied calmly, over time, moving from the (inevitable) “fundamental questions” to the particular consequences. As such, the site cannot be classified as a simple contribution to spirituality (perhaps to be visited to simply obtain some inner comfort, as spirituality is unfortunately sometimes understood today), but as an offer for a synthetic, but articulated and organic, of fundamental issues. This, if it is not required of everyone (thank God, salvation is also offered to an illiterate!), can however constitute a moral duty for many, for which one is responsible for oneself, for one’s family (for example for the education of children!), for others (colleagues, acquaintances) and for society; and for which one will ultimately have to give an account to God himself, for eternity!
The structure of the site (and meaning)
Let’s now take a quick look at what the new site looks like and the meaning of the individual parts.
The site presents itself with a header, which appears on each page, where the Menu immediately allows you to discover the Sections and Subsections.
The header image, which appears on every page of the site, is the famous painting by Beato Angelico “The Sermon on the Mount (1440 – located in the Museum of S. Marco in Florence), where Jesus Master indicates “the way of life” to the 12 Apostles listening (Judas Iscariot is even discovered there, although hidden, with a black halo).
The two large and solemn images on the homepage, already present on the old site, are the “Christ Pantocrator” (Lord of all the things) from the apse of the cathedral of Cefalù (12th century), similar to the other great Christ Pantocrator present in the apse of the Monreale cathedral, also in the Palermo area. The Marian image is instead one of the most famous and solemn in the world (according to tradition, painted by St. Luke looking at the Madonna herself): it is the Russian icon called “Madonna of Vladimir” (1131), or “Theotokos” (Mother of God) or even “Madonna of tenderness”; she is venerated throughout the (Orthodox) East and considered the Patron Saint of Russia (it is located in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow).
These solemn sacred images already help us to insert ourselves into the solemn and two thousand year old Christian Tradition, expressed by the very fruitful history of Christian art.
Therefore, even in this renewed site, the meaning of the site itself is indicated on the homepage with 3 concise expressions.
On the right, in the so-called shoulder, runs, as in all the pages of the site, the showcase, called Highlights , where from time to time some pages or documents of the site are presented. However, it is here that the great innovation of the Search function appears , which allows you to immediately find words or themes present in all the News and in all the documents on the site!
Also on the homepage, as on every page of the site, the icons that indicate the possibility of downloading the page in PDF format and proceeding with printing also appear at the top .
At the bottom of the page (as on every page), you will find the possibility to share the page or document you are viewing through various social networks or by email.
Newsletter function appears , which allows you to have the latest published news delivered to your indicated email address. Then, in the Contacts function , the possibility of communicating via e-mail with the author of the site (Don Antonio Cecchini) appears.
Sections and subsections
The large and ever-growing News section is undoubtedly the most popular and even awaited one on the site, although not the most important. Obviously it is not just a matter of reporting news data, but of highlighting certain facts of social and ecclesial life which require a judgment of faith (where possible, in any case a well-reasoned and well-founded judgement) and which are instead very often censored or sometimes maliciously misrepresented . In this sense we have always spoken on the site about “News… against the current”.
As can be seen in the window or session of the same name, located at the beginning of the Menu and which returns to any page of the site, the new site allows new and very practical functions in this regard, in reference to all the News produced by the site over the years of its existence (since 2011). First of all, the Latest News is reported (its communication occurs automatically for all those who have subscribed to the Newsletter), then the last 20 News produced, then their subdivision by Years and even by Categories .
This is a section where fundamental aspects of Christian life are included, to be known well (and here just a click away), keeping in mind that now even so-called “practicing” Christians often do not know or about which they have very confused ideas (see News dated 08.21.2023).
Catechesis (To understand the faith): it is the opportunity to have at hand, in a clear and consequential way, the fundamental contents of the Christian faith, identifying the “reasons” and asking them in a practical way as questions and answers.
Therefore, after the Introduction [Why should I ? (take care of these things) . This is a fundamental aspect, to understand how asking these questions (and understanding that God exists and Jesus is the only savior and is necessary for our eternal salvation) and finding the right answers is not something accessory or optional for the life of every man. This Introduction is also reflected in an audio-catechesis by Don Antonio Cecchini, present on YouTube and reported here in the Video section (see)], there are 7 parts, presented in consequential form (that is, a subsequent part cannot be understood well unless the previous part is already included) and in the form of questions and answers (now easily accessible with the ready-made links): 1. The truth (Introduction + 14 questions); 2. God (14 questions); 3. Religions and the Revelation of God (13 questions) ; 4. Jesus Christ (12 questions); 5. The Catholic Church (7 questions); 6. The Christian life (15 questions); 7. The Afterlife (14 questions). This part is also reflected in an audio-catechesis by Don Antonio Cecchini, present on YouTube and reported here in the Video section (see)].
There is no Christian life without prayer. While also leaving room for spontaneous prayer that flows from the heart, it is necessary to know and pray also and above all with the immense and precious heritage of prayers that have come to us from two thousand years of the Church’s life.
This is why, in this section, we report something of this precious treasure, complete with the original Latin text and often also with the possibility of listening and learning (through the links provided) the ancient “Gregorian” melodies with which not only the monks but even the lay faithful have prayed and sung for centuries and centuries (and lately incredibly often thrown into the bin)!
It is good for every Christian to continually nourish their faith not only with the knowledge and prayed reading (“lectio”) of the Sacred Scripture (Bible, especially the Gospel and the entire New Testament), but also by coming into contact with the main texts given to us by Fathers of the Church (sacred authors of the first centuries) and by the Saints.
In this section, generally updated monthly, we present just a few samples.
There is no Christian life without the Sacraments, through which Jesus enters our lives and the Holy Spirit illuminates and strengthens our spiritual journey. Their spiritual fruit, which has not only existential but eternal consequences, however also depends on the knowledge and preparation of one’s soul in receiving them.
Obviously, the Sacraments that can and should be received as often as possible are Confession and Communion. This is why in this section we shed some light on how to celebrate them and live them with true spiritual fruit.
In this section we see what the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance (Confession) is and how it should be celebrated . However, given that it is a question of recognizing and accusing one’s sins before the priest (which are not left to personal opinion but highlighted by the Word of God and the perennial teaching of the Church!), we must first of all do the examination of conscience well , that is, knowing what sin is and recognizing and accusing them if they have been committed by us. This is why, guided by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Part III), we also offer a detailed list of the main “mortal sins”, which take away the “grace of God” and can only be absolved (removed) by Confession, both to be able to access to the Holy Communion that to be saved if we were to be called with death before the judgment of God!
According to the command of the Lord, who thus established the most concrete and effective way to make himself “really” present in our lives, and the two thousand year old Tradition of the Church, the Eucharist must be celebrated and participated in every Sunday and holy day of obligation. The site, in this sub-session, offers the opportunity to have the Rite of the Holy Mass at hand (liturgical rites cannot be invented or changed at will) and something of its meaning (at the bottom there is also the link to be able to access the Vetus Ordo, that is, how the Holy Mass was celebrated essentially in an immutable way for 20 centuries!). Also in this part, there is the opportunity to access the Latin texts and the centuries-old and wonderful “Gregorian” melodies (see the links indicated for each text).
If we are well prepared and above all “in the grace of God” (otherwise we must confess beforehand) the Eucharist must also be received ( Communion ) and in the right way! In this regard, this section offers valuable information and references to authoritative Church documents on the matter.
The Eucharist, consecrated during the Holy Mass and which has become the real and constant presence of Jesus himself, is preserved in the tabernacles of the Churches, not only to be brought to the sick or dying who must request it, but also and above all to be continuously adored! It is also good that Eucharistic Adoration is often performed in churches in a solemn and community manner , with the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance and adored by the faithful with fervor and love. In the appropriate sub-session the site also offers the texts and historic Gregorian melodies (with the appropriate links to listen to and learn them) to accompany this Eucharistic Adoration and the final Eucharistic Blessing.
Faith and morality
A true faith must obviously also translate into a moral path, that is, learning to live everything according to God’s will and to renounce sin in all its forms (thoughts, words, works and omissions), especially mortal sins. Without this, the experience of faith would remain a “disembodied spiritualism”, which would not give true light and strength to our lives and above all would not allow us to one day access eternal salvation (this is the tendency of the Lutheran and Protestant heresy, which today it tries more than ever to conquer the true Catholic faith).
It is also true that claiming to live morality (although in itself objectively true and necessary for everyone, even non-believers!) without true faith, spirituality and communion with Christ and moved by the Holy Spirit, can become a heavy “moralism”, which in the end would tire one’s path and render one’s effort at conversion and good ineffective (this is the tendency of the opposite “Pelagian” heresy, which instead relies only on one’s own moral effort, although necessary).
Obedience to the law of God (because fundamentally faith is not a feeling but precisely obedience to God who has revealed himself – see Rom 1.5 and 2 Cor 10.5) and the renunciation of sin must be put into practice in any case, even if we didn’t initially understand the meaning. However, not only faith but also Christian morality is not blind but has its whys, its reasons, its convincing explanations (for anyone who is sincerely open to the truth). For this reason, even in this moral section, the site synthetically presents some of the most common questions, objections and answers.
Introduction to Christian morality presents itself (with 29 questions and answers), but also the one on sexual morality ( with 40 questions and answers, referring to the most common objections, such as sins relating to sexuality and contrary to its authentic and full meaning) which evidently touches on very delicate but decisive issues for life and for eternal salvation itself!
Given that, as we mentioned at the beginning, the Christian faith, while not claiming to become a “Theocracy” (as it was in the Old Testament and as it is for example in Islam), however has a decisive impact not only on personal life and family, but also on the social, cultural and even political ones, in this moral section (because ultimately that is what it is about) they are presented in a synthetic way (even if the document is however extended and divided into numerous and decisive topics) also the main themes of the Social Doctrine of the Church (articulated according to 41 questions).
The “Faith and morality” section then concludes with some particular themes, especially bioethics (but substantially already touched on in the part on Social Doctrine).
In the footsteps of…
Obviously the Christian, to be enlightened and strengthened on his path, follows in the footsteps of Christ himself (who is himself the Way of Life , that is, “the Way, the Truth and the Life”, cf. Jn 14.6, as already mentioned on the homepage). In His goodness God, in addition to the inestimable gift of the Holy Spirit (who lives in us, if we do not drive him away with grave sin) and the intercession of the Most Holy Mary (who is given to us as a most tender and powerful Mother) and of the Saints (even already of the souls in Purgatory) and to the particular assistance of the Angels (in particular of our personal Guardian Angel) , illuminates our path with the continuous and perennial Magisterium of the Church (the official teachings of the Pope and the Bishops united with him) and with the testimony and words of the Saints. In other words, the perennial Magisterium of the Church offers us the guarantee of the authentic interpretation of Sacred Scripture and of God’s will, for the purpose of our eternal salvation; if instead we talk about examples to follow, they are provided to us (at least as a stimulus) by the life testimony of the Saints (for this reason canonized by the Church).
For this reason, in this session, we refer to the authentic Magisterium (the subsection refers to the reliable source of the Catechism of the Catholic Church of 1992 and the related Compendium of 2005). To follow in the footsteps of some Saints, the site refers above all to some catecheses held on this subject by Benedict XVI in several general audiences on Wednesdays.
Faith and culture
Precisely because, as mentioned at the beginning of this News , authentic Christian faith also becomes a passion for the truth and the capacity for deeper judgment also on cultural, historical, social and even scientific issues (despite obviously the relative autonomy of the individual disciplines), already in this session, as in more depth in the Dossier section but also in other documents present in the Archive, a concise presentation of some historical issues is presented (see), generally presented as questions and answers (to facilitate learning and research), as well as on some issues of the relationship between science and faith (see).
As we have just recalled, in this section we address and offer in a more extensive and documented way some questions (some already presented, in a more synthetic way and according to the question and answer formula, in the Faith and culture section ) of an especially historical nature, but also cultural, scientific, social, political, as well as ecclesial.
Both among the Dossiers and in the more concise and practical documents presented in Faith and Culture , the aim was above all and finally to shed some light on those false anti-Catholic myths (generally uncritically absorbed even by Catholics), which invalidate the minds and consciences from an early age (through schools) and which still return, if not at the level of high culture, but still in many books, publications, media, press, in many cinematographic and even theatrical productions, if not even in false museums set up ad hoc and presented as historical); so that the common mentality comes to believe them to be true!
They range from medieval obscurantism, with the atrocities of the Inquisition, of the Crusades, up to the colonization/mission of the Americas, not to mention the alleged (false) opposition between science and faith, from the “Galileo case” to the question of evolutionism, etc.
However , in the dominant culture, the myths of the goodness of the Enlightenment, of Modernity, of its revolutions, up to the Italian Risorgimento, remain.
All this is substantially fueled by anti-Catholic hatred and accompanied by historical falsehoods which are easily denounced with serious, documented and objective historiography.
The site, within the limits and spaces permitted, already offers considerable and objective documentation to disprove such myths. For this reason, they must be studied carefully and disseminated.
The large Archive section includes above all two publications (viewable in original PDF format by clicking on them) produced years ago by Don Antonio Cecchini for the University Pastoral of the Vicariate of Rome, which had commissioned them from him, and which are still on the market. These are the volumes Time and its Meaning and In Search of God . Both in the times of their publication-dissemination (bear in mind that there are around 250,000 university students in Rome!), as even today, there has been a certain enthusiastic echo; to such an extent that even recently, some students and adults have even expressed their heartfelt applause (which at times, it has been witnessed, has changed their lives), especially the one on “Time and its meaning”!
The archive then reports two philosophical texts written by Prof. Don Antonio Cecchini (also author of this site) on the relationship between Nietzsche and Christianity [the author, who is a specialist on the thought of F. Nietzsche, achieved with the highest votes ( Summa cum laude ) both the Licentiate and the PhD in Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome)].
The text Beyond Nothing (Nietzsche, nihilism and Christianity) , published by Città Nuova (Rome) in 2004, has a more informative dimension; while the substantial text Becoming Innocent in F. Nietzsche , published by Editrice Glossa (MI) in 2003, although always interested in the relationship between Nietzsche and Christianity, is more suitable for specialist readers or those interested in the theme or the philosopher.
The section then reports the News archive divided by years (as in the News window).
Finally, other documents produced on various topics are presented in this Archive section. Since they are an ever-growing part, they will also be classified as soon as possible.
Finally, the video section, not very extensive (at least for the moment) reports some catecheses (in video but actually only in audio) held by Don Antonio Cecchini, recorded in 2019/2020 but unfortunately no longer developed, present on the homonymous (the via della vita) YouTube channel.
Apart from those on the presentation of the site (now largely outdated), those on the “Introduction to the faith” are of considerable historical-theological importance.
As we have already mentioned above, in reference to the catechesis present on the site in the section “Help to understand the faith”, the introductory audio-catechesis is particularly popular. Why should I? (listen), as well as the one about the afterlife (listen).
Then follow some brief but significant testimonies from today’s young people, converted to the faith and Christian life, both coming from extreme experiences of sin and even at the gates of death!
As can therefore be understood, the intent (and passion) from which the site was born and developed is to offer help both for the discovery of the truth of Christianity and for the deepening of a Christian faith that breathes fully, thus involving both conscience and reason, both personal and social life, becoming a mentality and capacity for true judgment on the facts of the present and of history, for the purpose of a more authentic and human personal and social life project , beyond and above all to achieve one’s own and others’ eternal salvation.