#26 December 11, 2005

Dear Friends,
We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday December 11, 2005 at 1:30pm in the small chapel in St. Paul's Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we pray for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land. Please note the change in time due to the Christmas Concert by the Boys Choir on that afternoon.

In the midst of the Advent season it seems appropriate to focus on the Virgin Mary and Jesus in our prayer. They appear together in the Qur'an and inspired Louis Massignon to see Mary as the means to reconciliation and understanding between Muslims and Christians and ultimately as a bridge for all three Abrahamic faiths. In many ways Mary's "fiat", her "Yes" to God at the Annunciation stands at the center of the Badaliya prayer and for Massignon the core of Christian spirituality. At the risk of a lack of humility may I refer you to my book, "Dialogues with Saints and Mystics: In the Spirit of Louis Massignon" where chapter seven describes the insights of Massignon in detail.  Here for further reflection for our gathering: 

In a letter to Mary Kahil, Massignon wrote:
"There is no maternal grief in the world comparable to the vow, the 'fiat', of the Jewish Mary when she sacrificed the hope of her race into which the Messiah should be born, to serve God alone. Her fiat was to abandon herself totally to God in order to bring the Savior among us".

Massignon reminds us that Abraham's God was first revealed to the Jewish people, among whom we find the young Mary. He calls her a "daughter of Abraham". He also insists that we remember the Qur'anic vision of the one God of Abraham as that of all three monotheistic traditions. 

And finally from "Dialogues":

For Massignon, to love others into life is the mystery of Mary's fiat. He places her "Yes" to God in the midst of the Badaliya, for by conceiving Jesus, Mary conceives us and makes us holy with Him. Moreover every birth of a child, no matter how marginal her mother is in society, is an abandonment to God and the birth of God into the world. He ties Mary's fiat to her place at the foot of the Cross with the beloved disciple, painfully watching the agonizing death of her son. He understands the Badaliya as trying however poorly to express the compassion that pierces Mary's heart with the stab of the lance into the heart of her son, Jesus, which he calls an "Exchange of Heart". Here is a profound understanding of Simeon's prophecy to Mary in the temple. In an outpouring of love through mystical substitution, Mary feels the sharp point of the sword as it enters the flesh of her dying son. Members of the Badaliya were answering a call to an "exchange of heart" by their vow to substitute their own lives for the sake of others.

May these reflections heighten your prayer during this Advent and Christmas season and strengthen our commitment to find peaceful means to resolving the many painful conflicts in our world, especially those stemming from religious differences. 

Peace to you.