November 17, 2019.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, November 17, 2019 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

For some weeks in the Roman Catholic liturgy the readings from the Hebrew Scriptures have been from the Book of Wisdom reminding the Hebrew people, and all of us, to love the essence of Wisdom which is Justice. The kingdom of God is only possible when we work against the evil of injustice in our world. Divine Wisdom is beautifully described in yesterday's passage from the Book of Hebrews found in the Christian Scriptures.

"Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed in the eyes of him to whom we must render an account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Many parables of Jesus and the example of his own life on earth remind us over and over again that Divine Wisdom calls us to action that is often counter cultural. Yet, He insists that even if we are persecuted to the point of endangering our lives for acting in His name, not a hair on our heads will be destroyed and our lives will be secure. (Luke 21:19.)

Discerning the Will of God in our lives is challenging. Trusting that our lives will indeed be secure when we seem to be being led into taking big risks is not easy. In the Muslim mystical tradition called Sufism we find a path called the Science of Hearts. In his 50 years of research on the life and legendary writings of the 10th century Muslim mystic known as al-Hallaj, Louis Massignon discovered what we might call Divine Wisdom at the core of the Science of Hearts.

In Sufism, the heart is the seat of the human soul. The Qur'an says that our hearts find peace by remembering God. According to the Prophet, our hearts are like a mirror that can be clouded with our very human capacity for what the Church might call the seven deadly sins. The light of the Divine can only shine through when we "polish" our hearts by remembrance of God. (Al-Ghazali - the Marvels of the Heart trans. From the Arabic by Walter James Skellie

Hallaj describes a center point deep within every human soul that belongs entirely to God alone. He calls it le point vierge, or the virgin heart. He wrote:
" consciousness keeps itself for the Divine Secret in the intimacy of discreet hearts. And for their existence, at the core of their being, resides Existence Itself, the One who claimed my heart, advising it and choosing it." (Massignon, L. 1955, p 59 Le Diwan d'al-Hallaj. Paris. Librairie Orientaliste. Paul Geuthner)

In the process of Christian discernment of the will of God in our lives it is only our heart's deepest longings and desire for God, for Divine Wisdom, that allows us to bring the light of God into our broken world to others. In two weeks, we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving here in North America. Let us always remember how blessed we are to be able to share these reflections with our Muslim and Christian friends.

Let us pray for each other and for peace throughout the Holy Lands in the Middle East and elsewhere. May Divine Love and Mercy in our own hearts be a source of healing for broken and struggling hearts throughout the world.

Peace to you,

(See for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)