From the Underground Church to Freedom
352 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268106775 | October 2019
eBook (PDF) | 9780268106805 | October 2019
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268106799 | October 2019
International best-selling author and theologian Tomáš Halík shares for the first time the dramatic story of his life as a secretly ordained priest in Communist Czechoslovakia. Inspired by Augustine's candid presentation of his own life, Halík writes about his spiritual journey within a framework of philosophical theology; his work has been compared to that of C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen. Born in Prague in 1948, Halík spent his childhood under Stalinism. He describes his conversion to Christianity during the time of communist persecution of the church, his secret study of theology, and secret priesthood ordination in East Germany (even his mother was not allowed to know that her son was a priest). Halík speaks candidly of his doubts and crises of faith as well as of his conflicts within the church. He worked as a psychotherapist for over a decade and, at the same time, was active in the underground church and in the dissident movement with the legendary Cardinal Tomášek and Václav Havel, who proposed Halík as his successor to the Czech presidency. Since the fall of the regime, Halík has served as general secretary to the Czech Conference of Bishops and was an advisor to John Paul II and Václav Havel.
Woven throughout Halík’s story is the turbulent history of the church and society in the heart of Europe: the 1968 Prague Spring, the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the self-immolation of his classmate Jan Palach, the “flying university,” the 1989 Velvet Revolution, and the difficult transition from totalitarian communist regime to democracy. Thomas Halík was a direct witness to many of these events, and he provides valuable testimony about the backdrop of political events and personal memories of the key figures of that time. This volume is a must-read for anyone interested in Halík and the church as it was behind the Iron Curtain, as well as in where the church as a whole is headed today.
Tomáš Halík worked as a psychotherapist during the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and at the same time was active in the underground church as a secretly ordained Catholic priest. Since the fall of the regime, he has served as general secretary to the Czech Conference of Bishops and was an advisor to Václav Havel. He has lectured at many universities throughout the world and is currently a professor of philosophy and sociology at Charles University. His books, which are best sellers in his own country, have been translated into many languages and have received several literary prizes.
Under the pseudonym of A.G. Brain, Gerald Turner has translated numerous banned authors from Communist Czechoslovakia, including Václav Havel, Ivan Klíma, and Ludvík Vaculík. His many published translations include Tomáš Halík’s Patience with God (2009) and Night of the Confessor (2012). He received the US PEN Translation Award in 2004.
"An underground Catholic priest and member of the Czech resistance, Halik was important in bringing down the communist regime in that country . . . one has to admire his great courage and contribution to the end of totalitarianism in his country." ~Law and Religion Forum
"I need to tell you that your autobiography has hit our church like a storm. I do hope you know how deeply powerful your life story is. I am seeing day by day and hour by hour the impact it is having." ~Rev. David Rowe, Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, Fairfield, Connecticut
"Halík’s autobiography is a richly drawn self-portrait of a complex man who has a deep commitment to the Church and a desire to reconcile it with the contemporary world, yet one who has also known times of doubt and spiritual crisis, which he discusses with forthrightness. At the same time, it offers a vivid picture of the Czech Church under Communist rule and its aftermath." ~Catholic Library World
"It is one thing to live in interesting times, quite another to write interestingly about them. Halik achieves this. . . . Read this account of the 'Church in the world' to learn where he finds grounds for hope." ~The Irish Catholic
"This is a remarkable book. But then Tomáš Halík is a remarkable man. From the Underground Church to Freedom is engagingly written and articulate; it is the story of an apostle very much of our time. People of all convictions today will understand where he is coming from, even those who end up very far away from him." ~Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age
"It is possible that Halík is the most thoughtful, learned and interesting Catholic that is widely unknown in the United States today. Hopefully, this book will right that wrong." ~America
"With eloquent sensitivity, Tomáš Halík, a clandestinely ordained Roman Catholic priest, pulls back the Iron Curtain to illuminate a dark period of Czechoslovakian history. From the Underground Church to Freedom is a memoir enfolded with spiritual wisdom, incisive and frank in its assessment of Halík’s life and of the continuing narrative of the church universal as she has moved into the twenty-first century. . . . Poignant and profound, this book is a needed reminder that hope springs eternal even in the face of overwhelming evil." ~Foreword Reviews
“In this warm, reflective, and ultimately uplifting book, Tomáš Halík, with deep wisdom and a light touch, weaves the story of his life, his spiritual journey, and the emergence of the modern Czech Republic into a compelling narrative. Turner’s translation admirably captures Fr. Halík’s rare combination of gentleness and steel.” ~Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University
"From the Underground Church to Freedom is a spiritual autobiography in the tradition of St. Augustine’s Confessions, John Henry Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, and Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain. . . .the most interesting, challenging, and evocative dimension of Halík’s autobiography is his intensely personal reflections both on the progress and development of his own spiritual life and the effect that the people that he meets and the events in which he is involved have on that development." ~Catholic Outlook
"Tomáš Halík has been a prolific writer of theology, political commentary and analysis, and spiritual advice for more than thirty years, and he was of considerable importance in shaping the transition of the Czech Church after 1989; in addition, he was among John Paul II's close associates. His book is vivid, entertaining, and has a compelling storyline. From the Underground Church to Freedom will find a wide readership." ~Paul J. Griffiths, author of Christian Flesh
"Tomáš Halík’s From the Underground Church to Freedom is one of the most fascinating books of a thoughtful reflecting witness of our times. He tells his experience of the troubled history since the second half of the last century seen through the eyes of a Czech priest and internationally renowned philosopher and theologian. It is a journey of experimental questioning and ongoing dialogue with many well-known witnesses of our times, a journey through all the darkness of the Marxist epoch, the hopes during the spring of Prague that turned to winter, the new Exodus with great expectations but also challenges and temptations during and after the Second Vatican Council, the collapse of Communism, and the blasts of wind and storms in our globalized world and within the present Church itself. This moving remembrance ends with an almost mystical outlook and journey to eternal silence. A book of rich life experience, wise discernment of the signs of the times, and hopeful outlook out of faith." ~Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity