Rostislav Valušek

* 1946  

  • “I had some offers to represent Christian Democrats in the politics, to be at a higher, elected position. I asked them why and they told me, they needed people with a moral status. There would not be a problem with that but I didn’t think I would be the right person for politics. I knew for sure that it wasn’t the right thing for me so I entered the service. I remember the date and everything. I went to the caravan and studied the liturgy. I had a chalice with water and I rehearsed everything because I never did it before. I remember the first mass. Bishop Zítek wanted me to work in Olomouc, he had big plans that I would be in the Cathedral and I would take care about the youth. Students would follow me because I was the priest with the guitar. But I told him that I should start at a smaller place because it wouldn’t hurt that much if I spoil it. So he told me that they had a place in Horka nad Moravou where I would replace bishop Marceluch a bishop who worked there on retirement and who also was an agent. So I replaced an agent in a village nearby here. He told the old ladies that I would be a drunkard and a bohemian with a long scarf etc. And I serve there until today. No career in the Church or anywhere else. Everything goes to God.”

  • “I didn‘t believe there would be any change here. When things started breaking up all around Europe, in the East, I still thought that here it would hold rock-solid till kingdom come, and that I‘d be stuck here rock-solid too. Thus my activity – as I reckoned it would stay like it was until I died. Well and behold, that amazing thing happened, that I hadn‘t even hoped for, hadn‘t believed could come. I was so emotionally strung, I wasn‘t at all capable of functioning. I was at the founding of the Civic Forum in Olomouc, but those were zealous loonies in that first phase… But I wasn‘t able. I knew that they would come – as they did – that the practicalists would join the Civic Forum. And these high-strung, emotional people couldn‘t even speak properly, how they were overwhelmed by feelings. That was my case.”

  • “I think that it would be much harder without faith. But faith does not have a given, definite shape, you have to fight for it each day. These are despondencies and doubts, as St. Augustine says, doubts are the state of dubitation, of anxiety. The Bible is not always joyful as the Gospel, there are also things like psalms, for example psalm 42. Faith cannot be given, it has to be pursued and fought for each day. It wouldn’t be me without the declines, questions and doubts and subsequent ascents from abysses. I would not change a thing in my life. It was the way it was as Otokar Březina says. It is hard sometimes, it is even harder as you get older and have all the diseases and often stand in front of the gates. But same as Březina, I would say: ‘Lord, thanks for everything.’”

  • “I was lucky or unlucky that I signed some amendments to the Charter. I didn’t sign the Charter as such, that is a different story. I was at Dana Němcová and I wanted to sign it immediately. They were copying the Charter and I wanted to sign it. They told me to think it over and to distribute it in Olomouc. The police knew about that because the flat was wiretapped as we later found out. They also had photographs. I was denied everything at the interrogations and they took out a photograph of me coming out of the house and they told me: ‘Why are you trying to tell us? You have been photographed.’ And I told them: ‘So what? Why should I tell you the truth? You, who live one of the greatest lies?’ … I signed one of the amendments of the Charter about authors that cannot publish. Jiří Němec told me: ‘You are also an author that can’t publish.’ ‘But I didn’t even try to publish something, that is nonsense.’ And he said: ‘But there are people who want to.’ So I signed it. And that was later used by Biľak at the writers’ congress. It was, as Mr. Šafařík later said: ‘Rostislav, he named it from Šumava to Tatry. He named Egon Bondy. That is an author. Then František Daniel Merth. That is really an author. Until then, he published only one book in 1947. I read that in samizdat and I have some of them sighed here. Those were real authors. Then there was Tomáš Pěkný, Plaček, those were authors as well. Then some Valušek, who of course wasn’t a known author at all. Biľak was most probably given those materials to give evidence that those authors are not known. He asked: ‘Does the nation know them? They consider themselves as the voice of the nation!’ And of course, the nation didn’t know them. If they had chosen Seifert, it would be a different matter.”

  • “I‘ll put it like this: when Havel came up with his slogan, which was close to my heart, romantic, pleasing – that truth and love would win over lies and hatred – I said ‘yes!’ and I believed that the fairy tale would become reality. Of course, as time went by I realised that it won‘t be quite such a fairy tale. One had to come to terms with the complexities of the world. I had to learn that, because beforehand I was taught simplicity: this is where I and we and those similar to us are, and this is where they are. The demarcation line was perfectly clear.”

  • “The theological faculty and the Church should be a peaceful place for my trembling soul which always wanted to live in a fairytale about good and love; it was a place I put my hopes in. As Jakub Deml says: ‘To have a place of belonging and to belong.’ So I wanted to belong there. But as time passed I found out that the Church is not sacred in a sense that it would consist of saint people. The Church is sacred because it was initiated by the God and it harbors both sinners and saints. So I began to realize that not all of its members are saints.”

  • “Unpredictable are the ways of God and I decided to leave the faculty. So I wondered desperately through Prague. At the Strossmayer square there is a Catholic Church and I stopped there at the notice board and read: ‘If there is anything in the Church that would make you leave, so be it known that only the God has the whip and He judges and you should try to be a vessel made of silver or gold but not clay, because such a vessel will be broken.’ That is somewhere from the Old Testament. That was an answer to my fears and questions. It really struck me and I asked myself what would happen if everyone left the Church. I should be the silver vessel and the God will be the one to judge. So I smiled and continued on my way.”

  • “What was the most outstanding?” – “Emotionally? The rise of a nation, of course. I don‘t mean that ironically, I mean it quite seriously. It reminded me greatly of how we arose in 1968. For something around a week there was this amazing neighbourly togetherness in the face of the enemy – the Russian. It was similar to that. But of course it also didn‘t last forever.”

  • “According to the preliminary bibliography of the Texts of Friends, which is a name covering various texts that were distributed in Olomouc, the edition began with the text of Jakub Deml and his Word to the Lord’s Prayer of František Bílek. It was already published by Jaroslav Frič in 1970 and it was the beginning of the Texts of Friends. At that time we were membra disjecta, scattered and not knowing about each other. Jarda started out of the same need as me. Printing machines were strangled and we knew we had to do it ourselves. That was in 1970. According to According to Jiří Gruntorád who runs the Libri prohibiti library in Prague, we were the first samizdat group in the Normalization period. Expedice and Petlice, done by Vaculík and Havel are supposed to start later than us. That is something like a curiosity. I joined the group with Frič, Zacha, Mikeš later. I already did some samizdats and I knew that there were people who did the same thing. I was alone. I met Mikeš, it was an almost mystical experience. I knew that his name was Pert Mikeš but I never saw him before. I met a guy at the Christmas market down by the plague pillar. We were looking at each other, our eyes met, I came to him and asked: ‘Aren’t you Mikeš?’ And he said: ‘So you must be Valušek?’ It really happened. Then we descended into the vine cellar At the Trinity and there I passed the test. He asked me about Barbey d’Aurevilly, Deml, Zahradníček etc. I knew them all so I passed. People say that I brought the graphic arts into the samizdat. Our editions have also a certain graphic design because they contained the graphics.”

  • “There were enough of people who wrote on the walls, so we didn’t have to do that. We were three friends: me, Jenek Kavka, a friend, cyclist who had the same opinion as me and then his brother in law, Dr. Mašata, a bohemicist. We had a friend, an old man, who had a paint shop and a sidecar and he told us: ‘Boys, I’m too old for this but I will give you the motorbike and the paint and you will go and paint everything you can.’ And we were riding across Olomouc in the nights and we destroyed the signs or covered them with paint. That was solidarity. There were patrols, there was martial law. When we heard a tank we rode into a bush and it passed ten meters behind us. We were young and we didn’t mind. I suffer now when I think about it. We started the motorbike and went on. We were watched by the people. They said: ‘All right boys, you can go on.’ The solidarity was nice but it came to an end. As a reader, I discovered Hostovský, who wrote deep psychological prose. At that time, he wrote The Arsonist. It was a book about a man who deliberately set houses on fire and threatened the whole village. The village united even though there had been mischief and envy before. People suddenly felt for each other. When the danger was gone, people returned to hatred and anger. That was a certain archetype of the age. Then Dubček came back from Moscow with his agonized weepy explanations and I knew that is was over. And the times were quite liberal, the theatres and cinemas were open, people could go abroad. But it all ended in 1969.”

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Lord, thanks for everything

Valušek-svěcení na kněze v roce 1975 (2).jpg (historic)
Rostislav Valušek

Mgr. Rostislav Valušek was born on 18th July in Olomouc. His father, Augustin Valušek was an entrepreneur, his mother Emílie Valušková was born in Konečná and stayed at home. Apart from his parents, Rostislav was raised by his grandmother, who was one of the first members of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church and who taught Rostislav not only about faith but also about art and life. He attended basic school between 1952 and 1961. He was also influenced by Sunday religious classes at the Hussite Church, which he regularly attended. After basic school, he was an apprentice for a locker. In 1964, after several unsuccessful attempts to get into an academy of graphic arts, he had to serve in the Army. He immigrated to West Germany after August 1968. Even though he was enrolled at a graphic school in Germany, he decided to return to the country and apply for theology studies. With the help of some members of the Hussite Church, he enrolled at the Jan Hus Czechoslovak Theological Faculty in Prague. Theological studies and the Church should become a certain home. After about a year of successful studies, Rostislav’s disillusioned situation at the faculty and in the Church started to dissolve his determination to become a priest. He finally finished his studies in 1974 mainly due to an inner spiritual experience. At that time, his life already evolved in several directions. During his studies, he began to distribute an unofficial journal in Olomouc and he began working on his artistic career.   In 1972, Rostislav met with Petr Mikeš that started a long time collaboration in writing and distribution of an unofficial Samizdat journal called Texts of Friends. The editions of the Texts of Friends counted were almost three hundred. According to Jiří Gruntorád who established the Libri prohibiti library, this edition is the first unofficial journal that was distributed after the Soviet occupation in 1968. Apart from the Olomouc triumvirate: Petr Mikeš, Eduard Zach a Rostislav Valušek, the journal was also edited by the Brno section: Jiří Kuběna, Jaroslav Frič, Josef Šafařík, Pavel Švanda and others. Jiří Kuběna was instrumental in the participation of Rostislav Valušek in the literary evenings Footprints in the Window. His contribution to the unofficial journal tradition in Moravia lies mainly in copying, editing, graphic design, and bookbinding. One of the most important editions compiled by Rostislav Valušek was the anthology of literary and graphic works. Since 1984, he has released nine editions of the anthology, accompanied by his own graphic design.   Apart from those activities, Rostislav Valušek also kept in touch with the Prague scene, where he established relations with the literary critic Bedřich Fučík, Jiří Němec, Dana Němcová, and Věra Jirousová. Thanks to his artistic and Samizdat activities, Rostislav Valušek received the “honor” of being mentioned in the official Congress of Czechoslovak writers in 1977 by Vasil Biľak. This was also one of the reasons why he caught the attention of the state police. He was regularly interrogated, blackmailed and persuaded to collaborate with the regime for about a year. After the unsuccessful ‘courting’, Rostislav Valušek was accused along with another six people in a trumped up the trial and was accused of vilification of the Republic. He was sentenced to nine months suspended sentence with the period of two years. Rostislav Valušek couldn’t perform his priestly duties until 1989. After his studies, he had waited for the diploma for a year and was finally ordained a priest in 1975 after a year of postponing. He tried to obtain the necessary state permission in all dioceses of the Hussite Church. He was successful at the Prague diocese, which hid him in a village parish in Lužná. After a few days, his permission was canceled. He attempted to obtain the permission again in 1977 but didn’t succeed; instead, he was arrested and interrogated. Despite the missing state permission, Rostislav Valušek occasionally served masses as an ordained priest. He could officially return to ecclesiastical activities after 1989 and until the present day, he serves as a priest of the Hussite Church in Horce nad Moravou. He often worked as a manual worker: a stoker, a worker at the rail post and between 1979 and 1989 and at the hydrologic exploration works. He married in 1983 and along with his wife Marcela; he raised two children, Jan, and Anna. Just like Otokar Březina, he comments modestly about his life: “Lord, thanks for everything.”