#30 April 30, 2006.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, April 30, 2006 from 1:30pm-3:00pm 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.

One of our members in Tijuana asks that we include Haiti and Sri Lanka in our intentions. He wrote: "We Oblates around the globe have been particularly in prayer with these two countries becaue of the constant conflicts."

From Easter to Pentecost we have an opportunity to reflect ever more deeply on the events that we have just celebrated and on the meaning they bring to our lives as followers of the Risen Christ. It is an appropriate time to once again reflect more deeply on our vocation as members of the Badaliya, and our call to substitutionary prayer.

In his letters to the members of the Badaliya around the world written from 1947 to 1962, Louis Massignon offers his own reflections that became more and more profound over time as he allowed this prayer of substitution to inform his Christian call to prayer, fasting and social action. I invite you to join with me in reflecting together on this prayer with the aid of the following quotations from various sources. Perhaps you will discover others to share with us as well.

My translation of a letter written in December 1951 where Massignon wrote:

Last but not least, the anniversaries of the Marian liturgy on Aug. 14-15th, September 8th, and September 19th, allowed us to deepen our reflections on the rule of life demanded of members of the Badaliya by a Marian spiritual orientation, as presented in our letter # IV: "All the intensity and the modesty of our vow of abandonment" was taught to St.John by the pierced, virginal Heart of MARY at the unique moment, in the inner life of the nascent Church, when the words of Christ on the Cross, "Woman, behold your son - behold your mother," prepares them both for the thrust of the spear. "The adoptive Son took Her into his home."

This is the central mystery of our Badaliya about which we went to Ephesus for further reflection on September 19th (feast of our Lady of La Salette). According to St. Grégoire of Tours and St. Willibald of Eichstatt (in 723-726), it is in this mountainous area "near Ephesus", that St. John loved to pray for long hours for the Christian people. How could he have prayed in any other way than by uniting himself to the sorrowful compassion of his adoptive Mother and to her interior outcry, about which St. Ignatius speaks in his epistle addressed to Ephesus (XIX). [St. John was thereby] "substituting" himself for Her who had survived [Jesus' death] for the sole purpose of forming this new son in the suffering image of her Only One. It is to this harrowing yet hope filled meditation that the members of the Badaliya are invited according to our vocation.

In a biblical letter attributed to St. Paul: Colossians 1:24-26, and from a Lenten prayer:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church...

May I die daily, and accept death with a holy Indifference, and do Penance for my sins and for the sins of others, that I may contribute What is lacking of suffering in Your Mystical Body. My suffering is yours and yours is mine.

In my letter in March I asked for your prayers for Christian Peacemaker Tom Fox and his family. He lost his life working with the Iraqi people for peace in the midst of the crisis in their homeland. In a posting on the internet before he was abducted, he wrote:

The ability to feel the pain of another human being is central to any kind of peacemaking work, but this compassion is fraught with peril. A person can experience a feeling of being overwhelmed.....It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to confront fear, but if Jesus and Gandhi are right I am not to give in to either..... and if Jesus and Gandhi are right I am asked to risk my life and, if I lose it, to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan.

In a "letter" that one of our members, Christian Peacemaker Sheila Provencher, wrote to Tom after he was killed, she described a discussion about the risks they were taking in Iraq and Tom's response:

You wrote a statement of conviction that included the
words, "If I am ever called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in
love of enemy, I trust that God will give me the grace to do so."
You did it, Tom. You were faithful until the very end. I imagine
that even when you were about to die, you looked with forgiveness at
the man who would kill you.

You bore in your own body the sufferings of everyone who has also
been tortured and killed.

God, help us to be as faithful.

Martin Luther King in "Where do we go from Here?Chaos or Community" p. 223 (in Mahatma Gandhi by Deats)

[Love is] the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality...that force that all the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle.

And from the Gospel according to John 4:7,8,12:

Let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love....If we love one another, God abides in us and God's love is perfected in us.

Peace to you.