Homily by Cardinal Vlk in Hejnice29. 2. 2008
Dear brothers priests, dear friends, participants of the European Society for Catholic Theology,
You are all very welcome, especially those of you coming from abroad, welcome in our country. I would like to wish this conference many fruits and may God bless the results of your work.
The holy mass which is on the programme of this conference I do not see only as the obligatory part of the meeting between the priest and lay theologians but for me it is also a living encounter with the one who is not only the object, but the very core of life and work of theologians.So it is the living encounter with the living Word and the concrete person of your Master in the framework of liturgy. Let us celebrate in this very spirit and atmosphere.
Dear brothers priests, dear brothers and sisters,
At the very beginning of my homily I keep asking myself one question: what is the Bishop supposed to say to this type of congregation so it may be not only a part of the formal service but so it would express the living reality which he is being a part of. I do not think to speak down from the magisterial viewpoints to the present theologians would be a suitable idea. By the way I think that something important changed: the very fruitful tension between the magisterium and the theology is not that urgent today as it used to be.
I do not think I should focus on the exegatical commentary of the chosen biblical texts either as I know well that you are well familiar with the Second Vatican Council Constitution Dei Verbum and its stress of the Word of God. I believe in your work the accent on the Word of God is something fully evident and that you take it as the methodical starting point in your theological endeavour.
During the times of communism we had no suitable conditions for cultivating theology and yet not long ago while celebrating the jubilee of Professor Otto Mádr we remarked that theology has brought many fruits and we are able to follow up with them. Doctor Josef Zvěřina used to speak about „living theology“. It may have been less speculative but it has a the personal experience of God himself as a basis.
For me this moment is somehow interconnected with another phenomenon appearing in the Church throughout the last few decades which needs to be reflected upon theologically: there is long line of the new charisms, outpourings of the Holy Spirit as the prophet Ezechiel puts it. The Pope John Paul IInd addressed in his message the congress where the leaders of the new ecclesiastical movements met. In the eve of the feast of the Ascension of the Holy Spirit 1998 he spoke about thetwo dimensions of the Church: the institutional charismatic dimension. He declared that they both are coessential. In the connection with this Pope´s speech I do remark another big reality in the world of contemporary theology. Some theologians, and I have one particular in mind: Piero Coda, the Italian Professor of the Lateran University, speak about a new emerging method of theology, about new orientation of theology. These theologians have a vision that theology is not „su Gesú“ meaning Jesus as the object of theology but rather theology „di Gesú“, Jesus the subject of theology. The method of these theologians is a team work in a mutual unity, which is entrusted with the promis of Jesus´s presence. The magisterium tells us that this is a real presence.Let me quote here the Pope´s Paul VIth encyclical Mysterium fidei and other documents. Here the eucharistic presence is epressed here by this sentence: „realis dicitur non per exclusionem, quasi aliae reales non sint, sed per excellentiam...“ This is for them the basis to build theology on. It is not only their vision but it is their praxis which is in keeping with with the word of the Lord Jesus which I have picekd deliberately for this liturgy: „For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them... “ (Mt 18: 20). This is an echo or better it is a concrete fulfillment of the title Messianic title at Prophet Isaisah: „Emmanuel“ (Is 7:14). The prophet Ezekiel from today´s reading reminds us: „...you shall be my people, and I will be your God”. The visions of the theologians mentionned above come out of the presupposition that at the end of the Middle Ages theology and mysticism split up which brought greater effect than the whole Reformation of the 16th century. The great charism of the gift of the Holy Spirit brings back their interconnection and unity as puts it the prophet. This real concrete world, this school which they call Abba is where they cultivate their theology for years. It is for life... even for this present moment...