October 14, 2012

Dear Friends,

On Sunday October 14, 2012 members of the Badaliya and invited guests will gather together to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Louis Massignon. A Memorial Mass in the Melkite Catholic tradition will be celebrated at 3:00 pm at St. Pauls Church in Cambridge, MA.A reception will follow the Mass which will include a photo retrospective of Louis Massgnon and Mary Kahil, founders of the Badaliya Prayer Movement in Cairo, Egypt in 1934, and a reflection in tribute to the 10th anniversary of the 2002 revival of the Badaliya Prayer for our time. Reflections on the legacy of Louis Massignon will be offered by our guests, Reverend Sidney Griffith and Mr. Christian Krokus, Ph.D.

Members of St.Pauls' Adult Choir will provide the music for the Melkite liturgy which will be concelebrated by St.Pauls' Reverend James Savage with our guest Presider, Rt. Rev. Philip Raczka, Rector of Annunciation Melkite Catholic Cathedral in West Roxbury, MA and Vicar-General of the Melkite Diocese.

Our Badaliya gatherings have been inspired and nurtured by the letters that Massignon himself wrote to members of the Badaliya in his time as well as by his many publications. Our gathering on October 14th is a prayerful tribute to the legacy of a 20th century spiritual guide and exceptional scholar of the Muslim world. Many have called Massignon a prophet in his time and in this fiftieth year anniversary of the Vatican II Council some have pointed to Massignon's influence on the documents dedicated to other religions, especially Islam. As a gifted linguist skilled in Semitic languages and as an intense spiritual seeker, he chose to worship in the Melkite Catholic tradition in order to pray in Arabic. The Eastern Churches today belong to several different traditions and communions. The Catholic Communion embraces all the Eastern Catholic Churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church and includes the "Melkite" liturgical tradition that we will experience on Sunday, October 14, 2012.

Members of St. Pauls Badaliya have a particular relationship to these Eastern liturgies that continue to flourish in the Holy Land, or Middle East, where Christianity was born. Massignon's writings before, during and after the establishment of the State of Israel and his vision of the role of Christians living in the Holy Land in relation to Islam and Judaism, became the inspiration for us to establish a relationship with a Parish in Beit Sahour, Palestine. Although Massignon did not suggest specific actions for the Badaliya members, the natural outcome for the prayer of substitution ineveitably led him and us to "cross over" to the "others" for whom and with whom we pray in more and more intense engagement.Our pilgrimages to the Holy Land are designed to meet our Christian brothers and sisters who are the "living stones" who continue to witness to the love of Christ for all of humanity daily in the midst of their Muslim and Jewish friends and neighbors. We meet many courageous people from all three Abrahamic faiths who are working tirelessly for peace and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine and we join them in spirit through our monthly Badaliya prayer gatherings.

The Badaliya was established in Damietta, Egypt in 1934 for Christians living in the midst of Islam at the time and struggling to survive. He saw their mission to not only witness to the love of Christ in the midst of Islam but to also pray for all Muslims, even substituting oneself for them and thereby crossing over to embrace them in friendship and mutual understanding, fulfilling Jesus' commandment to "love your enemies and pray for those who persucute you." (MT. 5:44.) In 1947 Massignon further identified the prayer of Badaliya with written Statutes stating the original goals and a detailed description as to how to attain those goals. Let us pray that our revival of the Badaliya extends his vision of sustitutionary prayer to the needs of our time, fulfilling his suggestions as follows:

8. "Charity: Charity consists of an attitude entirely kind, affectionate, considerate, and truly fraternal, as much as prudence permits, in relation to the souls that Providence puts on the path of each one."

9. "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."

10. "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."

Please join us in person or in spirit as we honor the life and legacy of Louis Massignon.

Peace to you.