The brothers Jan and Michał (left to right), from Holy Trinity Polish Dominican Convent, spent one month in the Convent Saint-Etienne. Every summer, brothers from their convent can go to another convent for a few weeks, in return for some help given to the brothers who host us. Here, in parallel with their mission for the library of the École biblique, fr. Jan and Michał experienced the Middle-East and Holy Land for the first time.
What does “having a mission for the library of the École biblique” mean?
A typical day here was made of typecasting books, putting the new books at their right place in the library, feeding off the incredible material of the library, and visiting holy places. It means in addition to your mission, you experience a new place, a new culture, and almost the Holy Land!
The legend says you are nicknamed “hobbits”. Why?
The story began when the director of the library was Pawel Trzopek. We heard this name was invented to make a difference between normal volunteers and brothers volunteers. Actually, it is quite appropriate, because we spend lots of time underground, in the cave, like “Hobbits”.
After weeks in this incredible library, would you want to come back to deep dive in biblical or archeological studies and maybe produce a research paper, like fr. Rafał did?
Fr. Jan : I really benefited from the amazing amount of precious material to expand my research. For my master thesis (written after our 6 years studies), I work on the Gospel of Mark and the story of blind Barthiméeus. Being a teacher is not my way, but here I see a great field to work in. This place has something great and special, not only regarding books, but regarding what is all around as well. I want to go back there in the future.
Michał : I am rather interested in biblical theology than historical or archeological studies. My master thesis carries a more theological approach about the influence of angels and demon on human lives regarding Thomas Aquinas’ work. I really appreciate all the work done there by biblical experts, but this is not precisely what I study. To me, the most attractive thing was something else, the completely new experience of local culture and meeting with local people. I was especially impressed by the fact that messianic Jews live there, and there are still many of those who want to hear about Jesus.
Which visits did mark you the most?
Jan : After the Way of Cross on Via Dolorosa, we had the possibility to go to Jesus Christ’s tomb. That was the most moving experience for me.
Michał : In Nazareth, in the Basilica of Annunciation when I saw the words, “Verbum caro factum est” (“the Word became flesh”). I told myself “God came on Earth here”. What a mystery in such an ordinary place!
Jan, you are an acoustic guitar player and writer. You gave two private concerts in the convent, to an international audience! Would you like to tell us a bit about your plans?
Today, I have recorded seven songs. I wrote some of them before I joined the order, some during novitiate and others during my studies. These words deal with my experience of God. The goal is now to release all songs on YouTube and Spotify but the arrangements are still being made. I have a dream, to preach through singing. If that music could move the hearts, it could be a way to tell about God. But only He knows – and my supervisors know whether it’s my way. Maybe He only gave me these seven songs.