June 8, 2014.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Islands of Peace Institute Faith Sharing on Sunday, June 8,2014 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Pauls Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Interfaith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

Today Christians around the world celebrate the feast called Pentecost, the 50th day after the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. Durmg these last 50 days our liturgies have included scripture passages describing the many post resurrection appearances of Jesus to His disciples. On this day Jesus' promise is fulfilled. God will send the Holy Spirit in his name to teach them and remind them of all that he had taught them. (John 14:21-26)

This "Holy Spirit" is the same Spirit of God that moved over the face of the deep waters of the formless earth in the opening verses of the story of Creation in Genesis bringing light and life out of the dark void. This is the same Spirit of God of which the angel Gabriel speaks when he announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the child to be called Jesus."The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you"(Luke 1:35).

Just before the feast of Pentecost Jesus ascended to His Father in heaven and the disciples were once again left in confusion and fear, hiding in a room in Jerusalem as Jews from all over the world arrive to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Weeks. (Shavu'ot Exodus 23:16) The Acts of the Apostles describes a dramatic scene of the "noise like a driving wind filling the house...tongues of fire coming to rest on each of them", filling them with the Holy Spirit of the eternal God. Then they go out and speak to the crowds who had gathered there.They had come from many different nations but each of them heard the disciples speaking in their own native tongue.

In the Gospel according to John as the disciples are hiding in Jerusalem behind locked doors, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you.... As the Father has sent me so I send you. And when he had said this he breathed on them, Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:19-23) Just as in the story of Creation in the first book of the Bible where God breathes life into Adam, bringing human beings to life, today Jesus breathes new life into us as His disciples and we receive the Spirit of the living God. We too are sent by Jesus to bring His peace and the Spirit of God's love into our conflict-ridden world.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate these 50 days (from the Passover, or freedom from physical bondage in Egypt), as their spiritual redemption from their bondage to idolatry and immorality when the Torah, the first five Books of the Bible, were given to them on Mt. Sinai.

In Islam, the Qur'an also describes how God breathed His Spirit into Adam giving human life a special place in all of God's creation and a unique relationship with God. (Surah 15:4) On June 29th Muslims will begin their own month of fasting, prayer and charitable offerings. Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the requirements for every Muslim believer. By the end of the month of Ramadan Muslims are encouraged to have recited the entire Qur'an. The word "Ramadan" is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of food and drink.The feast known as Lailat al-Qadr celebrates the time when the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammed and falls on July 24th this year. Many Muslims pray this night for God's mercy, forgiveness, and salvation as this "Night of Power" is considered the most appropriate time of the entire year to pray for salvation and blessings. It is believed that a Muslim's past sins are forgiven if the person prays throughout this night. The offering of hospitality to friends for the nightly breaking of the fast, or Iftar dinners, is a large part of the Ramadan experience of community. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan and the start of a feast that can last up to three days.

Louis Massignon made the patron saint of the original Badaliya a vision of the Virgin Mary appearing in a church in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) protectively spreading out her veil over the enire world. He offered Her protection to end the conflict at the time that threatened to annihilate religious expression in the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. We have adopted the Palestinian known as Blessed Maryam of Jesus Crucified as the patron saint of our Badaliya USA due to the conflicts in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East and our great need for peace and justice there. Massignon called her "the little arab". She was born in Ibillin, Palestine and founded the Carmelite Monastery's in Bethlehem and Nazareth. She wrote:

"O most Holy Spirit, when you sent forth the ray of light, the disciples were transformed: they were no longer what they had been before: their strength had been renewed: offering sacrifices became easy ... Source of peace and light come and enlighten me."

Let us offer her prayer for one another, for all those who have asked for our prayers, for those throughout the world who need our prayers, for a blessed and holy Ramadan, and for a fruitful and peace-filled summer.

Holy Spirit, inspire me,
Love of God, consume me,
On the true path, lead me,
Mary, my mother, look upon me,
From all evil, from all illusion,
From all danger, preserve me.

Peace to you.