January 17, 2010.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 3pm at St. Paul's Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the 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.

On January 8, 2010 I attended the Annual General Assembly of the Association of the Friends of Louis Massignon in Paris. The newest book to be published this year of the spiritual and public writings and lectures of Louis Massignon is a French edition of his letters to members of the Badaliya from 1947 to his death in 1962. The book is entitled, "Badaliya, au nom de l'autre", ("Badaliya, in the name of the other") and will be published by Editions CERF. These letters are a rich testimony to the spirituality that informed Massignon's life and public engagement as well as a collection of documents that place them in the context of their historical time. For members of our small re-creation of the spirit of the Badaliya prayer for our time they are a sign of the depth of faith and the intense commitment to social justice to which the prayer of substitution inevitably leads us. Massignon stands even today as a profound witness to Interfaith engagement and sincere love of the other to which God calls us all. For those of us who are English readers let us pray that this collection will soon be available in an English edition.

In light of the current news of a devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, this week we must include the victims and their families in our prayer of Badaliya. Human suffering from natural disasters challenges our faith to an extreme just as the call to Badaliya prayer is an extreme offering of ourselves for the well being of others, especially our Muslim and Jewish friends and neighbors. Our own human failings at peace and reconciliation so evident in the Middle East and especially the Holy Land are yet another test of our faith. Hope is an intrinsic sign of Christian faith and we pray for the courage to enter into these devastating situations and conflicts with our spirit alive with it.

The Carmelite Palestinian, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, who Massignon called, "The Little Arab" wrote:

"The soul that hopes in God will be changed by His mercy into a beautiful diamond". .(Thoughts p. 55)

At the end of her Canticle of the Desert and of the Dew she wrote:

"My lips are so parched
that I cannot move them
to call to You for help.
Lord, send Your dew to this barren land
and it will come to life again". (Thoughts, p. 54)

Peace to you.