June 19, 2016.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, June 19, 2016 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

In the Catholic liturgy today we hear St. Paul reminding us that as baptized Christians we have been “clothed with Christ”. Christ in it’s original Greek is a title that means the “anointed one” or in the equivalent Hebrew, “messiah.” Jesus the Christ invites us as His disciples to “take up our crosses in life” and follow his example of unselfish love and self-sacrifice. By “clothing ourselves with Christ” we open ourselves up to be forever changed, converted in mind and heart, dying to our own self interests, and thereby rising to a new life of self-giving love of others.

In honoring this 100th year of the return to God of Louis Massignon’s friend and mentor, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, let us reflect on the life of this follower of Jesus who was inspired by the Muslim believers with whom he lived in the Sahara desert in Algeria, and for whom he ultimately gave his life on December 1, 1916. Louis Massignon wrote:

“Always he wanted to live in Muslim countries…and we know that far from preaching Christianity he reminded negligent Touaregs of the hour for the prayer of the Prophet. Not that he did not aspire to their conversion; fully Catholic, he would think that one could not render a greater service to a soul than to make it benefit from the Christian sacraments. But, for a mystic, the souls of the dead count as much as the souls of the living; and his particular vocation was to sanctify the eternal Islam (for what has been is for eternity) by making it [Islam] give a saint to Christianity.“
(Ch. Le Coeur, Le Rite et l’outil, Paris Alcan, 1939, p. 334-335. in Écrits Mémorables p. 109)

Massignon saw Foucauld as “one of these men who are timeless, precisely because they bring an impact of eternity on the apparently uncertain underworld environment, rebellious toward the depths of the truth”. He saw Foucauld’s profound vocation as a victim and an intercessor, sacrificing his life for this Muslim Berber people whom he had come to love. He would call him a saint, “Islamized by his death”.

The lessons that Massignon learned from Foucauld are lessons for all of us. Foucauld once said that when he finally knew that God existed he could do nothing but offer his life for Him. On the day that Foucauld was killed he had just written a letter to Louis Massignon who later wrote, “Christian love is not any kind of love … it is defined by its formal object and when it has God for it’s object it receives the form of the passion of Christ ... from the Last Supper to the Cross. Foucauld had before his eyes in thus writing to me before dying the perpetual offering of the real presence of a friend who died for him …” (ibid.p. 120) The willingness to offer ones life for the well-being of others, as Christians understand the meaning of the Passion of Christ, was one of the seeds for the foundation of Massignon’s Badaliya Prayer Movement.

Massignon learned from Foucauld to see every human being as a beloved creature of God and brother and sister to all regardless of their faith, ethnicity, national identity or the color of their skin. And Foucauld himself grew to see himself as a “universal Brother.” Those who have followed his spiritual legacy are called to do the same.

Let us pray that love prevails and brings an end to the violent conflicts throughout our world, especially in the Middle East and the Holy Land.

May the summer break renew your faith and spirit.

Peace to you,

(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)