June 17, 2012

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, June 17, 2012 from 3:00 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 will be our final gathering before we take our summer break. In our efforts to honor the spirit of Louis Massignon throughout this fiftieth year anniversary of his death we have focused in these last months on his own descriptions of his life experience in his writings along with many quotations from his letters to members of the Badaliya movement in his time. The year will culminate here at St. Pauls Church in Cambridge, MA on October 14th with a memorial Mass in his honor in the Catholic tradition that he adopted, the Greek Melkite Rite. The Greek Melkite tradition, along with others such as the Maronite Rite, remains within our Catholic community as another expression of our liturgy known as an Eastern Rite. It was in the midst of the Eastern church communities throughout the Middle East and espeically in the Holy Land that the Badaliya was established in Cairo, Egypt in 1934. Along with Massignon's intense love of Islam and the Arabic language and culture and dedication to Interfaith relations, he also spoke about ecumenism within the context of the diversity of christian churches and the need for all of us to witness to the one Body of Christ among us.

A question for our current re-creation of the spirit of the Badaliya in this, our tenth year, has centered around the fact that we are not living in the Middle East nor are we a minority community of Christians living in the midst of Islam, and yet we are aware of our many Muslim neighbors and the Muslim communities of faith who are a minority among us. We established our Badaliya movement in 2002 very much as a response to the attacks on the United States that we now know as simply "9/11". Massignon and Blessed Charles de Foucauld have been our guides in pondering the depth of meaning in substitutionary prayer, in "Badaliya", and allowing it to lead us in our attempts to reach out, to "cross over", to others of differing faith traditions and to befriend our Muslim neighbors.

Ten years of learning about Islam and the richness of this Abrahamic tradition has reaped the fruit that Massignon himself recognized. Our own faith lives have been enhanced, expanded and enriched by the experience of "crossing over" to the "other" and we have been rewarded with shared Iftar dinners during the Ramadan evening breaking of the fast and invitations to the homes of our Muslim friends. For some years some of us experienced a women's faith sharing group made up of women from each of the three Abrahamic traditions and have been invited to share the Passover meal and celebrations of Yom Kippur with our Jewish friends. At this moment, at the invitation of the Island of Peace Institute established by the Muslim Turkish community we are planning to extend this experience to developing interfaith sharing groups in the coming year. There is much for which to be grateful.

As a result of Massignon's extensive writings about Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel we have become partners with a church in Beit Sahour, Palestine and visited the community there on our pilgrimages to the Holy Land. There will be another opportunity in the Spring of 2013. Our friendships with Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio SJ and the community of Deir Mar Musa in Syria and others throughout the world who are living the spirit of the Badaliya in the Muslim world invites our prayers and our deeply felt sense of communion with them. They too are "Islands of Peace" in our world. In June there was a gathering of a new group in Paris, France coming together in solidarity with the al-Khalil ( Abraham, friend of God) community at Deir Mar Musa. This is another manifestation of the spirit and calling of Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil's Badaliya prayer movement.

In the Statutes of the original Badaliya Prayer Movement written in 1947, in the section titled "Means" Massignon advised:

"Personal Holiness does not consist of any particular means, but it must tend to make the members of the Badaliya living Gospels, in order that Jesus Christ manifests himself through them and that they give witness to Jesus Christ by their lives and, if God wills, by their death."

"While the Badaliya does not propose exterior action, its members always look for ways to devote themselves to their Muslim brothers and they will voluntarily enter into active organizations that are able to animate the spirit of the Badaliya."

Have a blessed summer.

Peace to you.