January 15, 2012.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, January 15, 2012 from 3 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Pauls 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.

This new year of 2012 begins the tenth year of our Badaliya prayer, recreated in the spirit of the prayer movement established by Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil in Cairo in 1934. In his Annual Letter to members of the Badaliya begun in Moscow in August 1960 and completed in Paris on January 6,1961, Massignon took the time to reflect back on the history of the Badaliya. On the feast of the Epiphany in January of 1947 the movement was acknowledged and came under the jurisdiction of the Greek Catholic, or Melkite tradition. Massignon describes how his prayer for fourteen years for the salvation of the soul of one friend led him to recognize a whole population of others connected to this one soul in despair, but also connected by the promise of salvation. He wrote:

"And it is thus that year after year, beyond the Egyptian milieu where we had suddenly recognized in this one soul our "Fellow Man", the ravished Face of Christ, [we went on]to other encounters with the same grace that made us recognize our "fellow man" in other age-old sufferings. At first, at the common borders of Islam and Christianity in the Mediterranean, and then beyond to the ends of the earth.The absolute compassion of the Good Samaritan removed us from a detour on the road to Jericho, and thus [led us] to the ecumenical consideration of all humanity in space and time." (Annual Letter #14 Jan 6, 1961p. 268 in Louis Massignon Badaliya: au nom de l'autre (1947-1962) présenté et annoté par Maurice Borrmans et Françoise Jacquin.Cerf 2011.)

In this past year and leading up to it during the past nine years, we have let ourselves be guided by the spirit of Massignon's vision of Badaliya through reflecting on his own letters and the writings of his mentors, from Blessed Charles de Foucauld to Mahatma Gandhi. On his many pilgrimages to Jerusalem and through his writings about the great need for peace and reconciliation among the three Abrahamic faith traditions in this Holy Land, he has led us there as well. Our focus on Israel and Palestine and our partnership with Our Lady of Fatima Church community in Beit Sahour, Palestine is a result of our prayer and reflection and our need for education about the Christians who struggle to surivive in the land where Jesus was born, lived, preached, suffered and was resurrected.

Massignon wrote about his support for a Muslim Waqf which provides lodging and support for Muslim pilgrims coming to Jerusalem to visit the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Again in 1952, in the name of the Word of honor given by France we aided in the diplomatic defense of the Waqf of Abu Madyan founded by the Andalusian refugees from Tlemcen at the Wall of Lamentation on the threshold of the el-Aqsa Mosque. This place is very holy. It guards the entrance to al-Aqsa where a chapel on the left is designated for the devotions of Muslims for Mary.(The place of the Presentation of Our Lord). It also contains the Wall of the Lamentations of Israel where the Jewish people mourn the destroyed Temple on the 9th of Âb by reciting the whole Psalter there. We have noted that if the Bible is the body of the Messiah the Psalter is the Heart, and that this place is predestined for the reconciliation of Jews and Arabs, without which the Serene Peace that we desire between Christianity and Islam remains inaccessible. Our pilgrims visit it every year, reciting the Fâtiha [The First Surah of the Qur'an] for our friend Lounis Mahfoud. And the Waqf Abû Madyan remains, with the pilgrimage to the Seven Sleepers in Sétif, the two axes of our prayers for our Muslim friends. (ibid. p.239)
It is fitting to start our tenth year reflecting on the following words of Masssignon found in the same Annual Letter.
"The one who ceases to be compassionate in order to "save himself" has not truly "discovered the Other". The one who has truly felt the shock of compassion remains nailed to the Other." ( ibid.p.233)

"It seems nearly certain to me that this Other is [hidden] under this mask of soiled humanity as the Poor, the Lord Himself, the True creator, under the mask of a tempter, in whom we must find, through a profound probing, the virgin point where the Lord resides." (ibid.p. 234)

Peace to you.