January 16, 2022.

Dear Friends,

Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic we will gather together remotely for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday January 16, 2022 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. 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, especially in the Holy Land, an end to the pandemic, and recovery of health for the world.

In this second Sunday of Ordinary time in the liturgical calendar of the Church we enter into the story that heralds the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. Jesus, his mother and his disciples are attending a wedding in the town called Cana. When the wine "ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine". And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." What follows is the first miracle attributed to Jesus. Six stone water jugs, each holding twenty to thirty gallons of water, were turned into wine. For our own spiritual reflection, the details in this story have much to say to us.

Mary, the mother of Jesus initiated the first miracle at Cana just as she freely accepted the invitation of the Angel at the Annunciation. This is an example of confidence and empowerment that is the product of self-knowledge and the resulting ability to make one's own decisions and choices. Even though Jesus says, "My hour has not yet come", she, the one he calls woman, seems to hear another voice within him that we might call, the Spirit of God. She is not stuck in the present moment but rather keeps going forward. "Do what he tells you" she says to the steward, as if she already knows what the miracle will be. That is the role of many prophetic voices in the Scriptures. And what about that first miracle? Water transformed into wine. Not just any wine, but a wine of superior quality. Is this a foreshadowing of other scenes in this drama of Salvation History?

In the Qur'an, the Arabic term ayah, or ayat in the plural, refers to the miracles, or signs, experienced in God's amazing creation or those of the prophets such as Ibrahim/Abraham and Isa/Jesus. The miracle of the Qur'an itself points to the prophetic call of Muhammad, known as The Prophet. Miracles are also attributed to saints and are referred to as karamat.

When Louis Massignon founded the Badaliya prayer movement in 1934, he made the image of the miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary in the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople, (present day Istanbul in Turkey), its patron Saint. He was praying for a miracle in the midst of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West. The rich legacy of the Russian Church was being suppressed. The spirit of reconciliation of East and West that grounds the Badaliya movement in Muslim and Christian friendship, and respect for the common foundation of all three Abrahamic faith traditions, made his prayer of special significance for his time. In 2002, when we re-envisioned the Badaliya for our time and place in the spirit of Massignon, we named the Carmelite Palestinian, Maryam of Jesus Crucified, the patron Saint of the Badaliya USA.

Maryam Baouardy was born in Ibillin, a poor village in the Galilee, Palestine, on January 5, 1846 into a Greek Melkite Catholic family. In the valley of Ibillin she would see Mount Herman to the North and to the South Mt. Carmel. Beyond the hills to the East is Nazareth and to the West the sea. Her parents died within a few days of each other when Mariam was three years old. This led to her adoption by a Paternal Uncle, a move to Egypt and a painfully difficult childhood during which time she had exceptional experiences of God and the Virgin Mary. After many trials working as a maid servant for various families in Egypt and Lebanon she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the age of fifteen and at the Holy Sepulcher, on the tombstone of Christ, she made a perpetual vow of chastity. After working for a family in Marseille, France she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition at the age of eighteen. Her mystical experiences that included the stigmata of Christ and ecstatic experiences caused them to refuse her entrance into the novitiate and she agreed to accompany another Sister into the Carmelite Monastery in Pau where she took the name Maryam of Jesus Crucified. She was sent to help establish a foundation in Mangalore, India. On her return to Pau she understood that God was calling her to establish a Carmelite Monastery in Bethlehem. She died there in 1878 at the age of 32 in the midst of helping with the construction of her dream. There are now four Carmelite Monasteries of women in the Holy Land: In Bethlehem, Nazareth, Haifa and Jerusalem.

She was known as "the Little Arab" and is a bridge between the Christians of the East and of the West. Her canonization took place during the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila, reformer and founder of the Discalced Carmelite religious community. Well before she was Beatified by the Church on November 13, 1983, Louis Massignon called her "the Patron Saint of the Holy Lands". She was Canonized by Pope Francis in Rome on May 17, 2015. At her Canonization Pope Francis stated, "Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Holy Spirit made her also a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world".

Ibillin is where Melkite Bishop Elias Chacour established the Maryam Baouardy Kindergarten in honor of her that has grown into offering education from Kindergarten through a thriving High School open to Christians, Jews, Druze and Muslims all together in Israel today. The fact that Ibillin lies in view of Mt Carmel where the Prophet Elijah experiences the "small still voice of God" and the Carmelites identify their spiritual foundation, speaks to her devotion to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in her life. Establishing the Bethlehem Carmel, and bringing her Sisters home to the Holy Land where she was born, came from that inspiration.

She was known for her ecstatic experiences of Divine Love:
"I am in God and God is in me. I feel that all creatures, all trees and flowers belong to God, and also belong to me.... I no longer have a will - it is united to God and all that is God's is mine ... I should like to have a heart greater than the universe"

In this 20th year of the foundation of the Badaliya USA let us renew the spirit in our hearts that guided Saint Maryam of Jesus Christ home to the Holy Land and open our eyes to the miracle of Creation on our threatened planet. Let us pray for the Peace with Justice we long for in the Holy Land and throughout the world, safe haven for all refugees and asylum seekers, racial equity and an end to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic in the New Year.

The Prayer of Saint Maryam of Jesus Crucified

Holy Spirit, Inspire me. Love of God, consume me. To the right path lead me. Mary my mother, look down upon me. With Jesus, bless me. From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me.

Peace to you,

Reverend D. Buzy,SCJ, Thoughts : Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified translation from the original French (1922) by the Carmel of Bethlehem,1997. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem. ch. 3 p.57

See YouTube of new Mariam Baouardy Center at Bethlehem Carmel

See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute