March 20, 2011

Dear Friends,

Due to our pilgrimage to the Holy Land from March 14th to 29th this year we will not gather at St. Pauls Church in Cambridge for our Badaliya prayer on March 20th but promise to pray for all of you as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and meet with our Palestinian and Israeli Christian brothers and sisters.

Please pray with us in Spirit as we meet members of our Partner Parish community of Our Lady of Fatima in Beit Sahour, Palestine. We will have the opportunity to celebrate Mass with them and share a meal. In the Bethlehem area we will meet the Francisan Sisters serving the community at the Aida Refugee camp and tour the cultural center and children's theatre with their innovative Director, Dr. Abusrour. We will visit the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation offices and projects and the Tent of Nations, a village olive grove and property owned by a Palestinian family for generations.

Our fourteen day pilgrimage of prayer and Lenten reflection at the holiest sites in our Christian tradition includes meeting His Beatitude Bishop William Shomali at the Latin Patriarchate, in Jerusalem. In Nazareth we will pray in the chapel dedicated to Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who Louis Massignon called his "older brother" and mentor. We will visit the Carmelite Monasteries in Bethlehem and Nazareth that were founded by the Palestinian Carmelite Mariam Baouardy, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, who we have adopted as the Patron Saint of our Badaliya USA. She was called the "Little Arab" and Massignon named her the Patron saint of the Holy places in the Holy Land well before her beatification in 1983.

In February many of us attended talks given at Boston College and Emmanuel College by Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio SJ about the refurbished 6th century monastery called Deir Mar Musa in the Syrian desert. He spoke of the community that lives and prays in the midst of the Muslim villages nearby. This community is living the Badaliya in very much the way that Louis Massignon envisioned it and welcoming all people of every religious tradition and Christian denomination. We were fortunate to share a meal with Fr. Paolo and be led in chant and prayer in Arabic as it is practiced at Mar Musa. The many differences among religions that can appear to be contradictory and divisive melt away in this vision of the fullness of God and humanity practiced in the every day encounters with the Other in this community of dedicated men and women. In the depth of this way of life, and prayer of Badaliya, God transforms lives.

Let us pray for the youth movements arising throughout the Middle East calling for reform and human rights in their countries. May there be peaceful transitions and positive outcomes, especially in Libya.

Blessed Lent to everyone.
Peace to you.