#19 - April 3, 2005

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday April 3, 2005 at 3pm in the Catholic Chapel at Brandeis University. 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 during this special octave of Easter.

The first Friday falls on April 1st for those who are joining in the day of fast and prayer for World Peace with the Union of Charles de Foucauld. This prayer Union of priests, religious, lay persons, men and women, married and single was envisioned by Brother Charles while he served His God in the desert of Algeria devoting his life to the Muslim Berber Tourareg people. At his untimely death on December 1, 1916 there were 45 members of his Union Sodalité and it certainly would not have survived without the persistant will of Louis Massignon who moved heaven and earth that his friend's project take root.There were 47 members at Massignon's death in 1962. In the year 2000 there were one thousand Bishops, Priests, religious and lay persons dispersed in 52 countries joined together only by a bi-annual bulletin and the vision, the Spiritual legacy of Charles de Foucauld.

Last month we learned that Massignon's friend and mentor, Charles de Foucauld will be Beatified in Rome on Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2005. The foundation for his prayer Association, which he called a Union apostolique, can be felt in the spirit of Louis Massignon's Badaliya prayer as well. In the statutes for the Badaliya Massignon suggests using readings for reflection and discussion from Foucauld if possible, or others, in the prayer gatherings.

When Foucauld was killed in 1916 it was Louis Massignon who inherited his legacy and worked diligently that it continue. The result led not only to the prayer Union but also to the foundation of both a men's and women's religious community called the Little Brothers and Sisters of Charles de Foucauld whose apostolate is to serve in the most desolate areas of our world, as did Brother Charles.

The two great mystics who influenced Louis Massignon's own spiritual legacy were Charles de Foucauld and Saint Francis of Assisi. Both instilled in him their love of scripture and their understanding of loving others as Jesus loves us, of living the gospel. It is our on- going challenge as we recreate the Badaliya prayer for our time and place to let scripture be our guide and these two great saints our inspiration in learning how to love our neighors of all faith traditions, especially our brothers and sisters in Abraham.

Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil lived in Cairo as Christians who were increasingly marginalized in a country where Muslims are the majority. Their task was to witness to their faith by embracing their Muslim friends and neighbors by their prayer for them and their love. We, on the contrary, live in a predominantly Christian country. It is easy for us to remain unaware of our Muslim neighbors and even less educated in Islam. The Badaliya prayer calls us to learn, to grow, and to love. Especially in this Easter Season let us reflect on this prayer of substitution, listening always for ways to respond with Chriist's love in our hearts.

Perhaps we can reflect on the following: In 1922 Massignon wrote, 'The secret of this (Foucaould's) heart was uniquely to live for the glory of God, to struggle for the salvation of souls, to endure and suffer with the wounded Heart of a beloved Master, crucified ".

'This ascetic, implacable, had learned thus to love others for God in an inexpressiblly delicate way. He asked for nothing, claimed nothing, watched, waiting for the hour of grace, avoiding wounding or causing the slightest feeling of embarrassement of any soul. The more humble the service the more transparent the grace".

And finally Foucauld's voice: "Every Christian must look on every human being as a beloved brother or sister. Christians have the attitudes of Jesus' own heart toward every human being".

Peace to you.