May 11, 2014.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Islands of Peace Institute Faith Sharing on Sunday, May 11,2014 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 encourage Interfaith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

We were honored to have our Muslim friends gather with us for the Easter Vigil Mass this year. At our gathering today we are invited to reflect more deeply on the symbolic meanings of the rituals celebrated throughout Holy Week in the Christian tradition. We call the next 50 days of Easter, "mystagogia", a time for contemplating the events in the life, death and Resurrection of Christ that are the foundation of our faith.and that we experienced with Him in this journey through Lent to Easter The adults who were Baptized and those candidates who were received into the Catholic Church at the Vigil are now called "neophytes" as they too are invited to plumb the depths of their experience during this past year of preperation and their own Baptism into the Body of Christ. And we members of the Church journey with them to renew our own Baptismal promises and reflect on our own Lenten journey from darkness and death into the Light of Christ and Easter Resurrection.

All of the rituals that make up the liturgy of the Church are taken from the Biblical texts. At the gathering for the Jewish Passover meal that we celebrated on Holy Thursday we hear the final words that Jesus speaks to his disciples in Jerusalem. He transforms the meaning of the shared bread and wine at this Passover ritual meal into His own Body and His own Blood. Jesus identifies Himself with the most basic food and drink, the fruit of the vine and the harvested wheat, the seeds from the earth that sustain life; bread and wine.This is the origin of the Communion of the Eucharist that we eat and drink at every Catholic Mass and is taken from the three Synoptic Gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke. In the Gospel of John.Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and commands us to do the same for one another.That is what it means to be a servant of God and a follower of Christ.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who inspired and guided Louis Massignon in his faith journey, meditating on the deeper meaning of the events of Holy Week that we call the "Pascal Mysteries", called the suffering, or Passion and crucifixion of Christ "a supreme declaration of love" for all of us that can only be responded to with our own "declaration of love for Him" and for one another. The One who loves us and is even willing to sacrifice His life for us invites us, according to Blessed Charles, to imitate Him. To sacrifice our own lives for others out of love, because we have experienced the mercy and compassion of God's love for us, is the meaning of Louis Massignon's Badaliya.

For the next 50 days we hear of the appearances of the glorified Risen Christ to his disciples and other followers until He ascends to God, the One He called "father." He promises to send the Holy Spirit to be with them, and all of us, spiritually guiding us into the fullness of eternal life in God.

During his last Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca in 632 CE, on the ninth day of the 12 month in the lunar calendar and the most holy day of the year, the Prophet Muhammad stood before the crowds of Muslim pilgrims at Mt. Arafat and delivered his final sermon. When he finished speaking the following revelation was received stating,

"...This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My Grace upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion..." (Quran 5:3)

This final sermon is taught to every Muslim believer throughout the world as it identifies the most important aspects of God's expectations of human beings and those they should have of one another.He said:

"Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone."

The Prophet's words remain alive in the hearts of Muslim believers everywhere. The final sermon is included at the end of this letter.

May the events of Holy Week and Easter also continue to come alive in our hearts as we journey together on this spiritual path of renewal and revelation. Please continue to pray for the safety of all those who remain missing in the Syrian conflict, especially Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio and the Syrian Bishops and for peaceful resolutions throughout the world especially in the Middle East and the Holy Land.

Peace to you.

The Final Sermon of Prophet Muhammad

"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. God has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. God has Judged that there shall be no interest, and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abd'al Muttalib shall henceforth be waived...

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, perform your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and offer Zakat. Perform Hajj if you have the means.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O people, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and it may be that the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people."