The Kolakovic Option
Here’s a meditation on the difference that one man can make. Last week I mentioned to you in this space the name Tomislav Kolakovic, SJ. Fr Kolakovic was a Jesuit responsible for organizing the Slovakian underground church. He was born in Croatia, with the surname Poglajen. He reverted to his Slovak mother’s maiden name, Kolakovic, when he escaped the Nazi collaborationist government in Croatia, and began working among Catholics in Slovakia. Here is a short biography of his life and work.
Here, from a history of Christian democracy, is what he and his followers accomplished. The author is Jan Canogursky, a Slovak lawyer who later became a Christian Democrat political leader:
Here’s the Wikipedia page (in Slovak) for Fr. Kolakovic. And here, from the same page, is a photo of Fr. Kolakovic:
This man, Father Kolakovic, called the underground church movement he started “the Family.” Frantisek Miklosko, a historian of the movement and a member, told me that it all began from Fr K’s devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and his belief that his mission in life was to work for the conversion of Russia. (Nota bene: Miklosko told me that Bishop Jan Chryzostom Korec, a secret bishop of the underground church who was made a cardinal after the end of communism, believed at the end of his life that Russia’s conversion, prophesied at Fatima, would not be the conversion of Russia to Catholicism, but its return to Orthodoxy.) Here are Jan Canogursky (left) and Miklosko, two living legends of the Catholic anticommunist resistance, after our lunch in Bratislava last week. They were who they were because Father Kolakovic (and Father Vladimir Jukl, and Dr. Silvester Krcmery) lived:
Same thing with Vladimir Palko, seen here after our lunch. We had just come from a May Day mass offered in the Bratislava cathedral to the memory of Father Jukl (see image at top), one of Father Kolakovic’s closest disciples.
Here, from another book, is more about the nature of the initial organizing Fr K did in Slovakia:
This was Father Kolakovic’s Benedict Option: to prepare the Catholic laity of Slovakia for a time of persecution. He saw what was coming. He knew that the standard church structures would not be able to withstand the coming attacks. His Rodina did not stand in opposition to the official church, not at all, but was rather a secret organization that kept the faith at a time when for various reasons the official church could not or would not do what it would have done in normal times. This “dedicated network of Christian communities” is exactly what we need today! From what I learned in Slovakia, and from what I’m reading about that period, these Christians didn’t sit around playing volleyball on Sundays. They were divided into disciplinary cells that studied and prayed and prepared themselves spiritually and otherwise to endure.
Time for the Kolakovic Option.
I am interested in what Fr Kolakovic thought about the spiritual dangers from American capitalism and liberalism. If any Kolakovic scholars are reading this, please e-mail me at rod — at — amconmag — dot — com. I am leaving today for a week of lectures in Australia, but I’ll be reachable online.