#29 March 26,2006.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, March 26, 2006 from 3pm-4:30pm in the small chapel in St. Paul's 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.

The news from Iraq about Christian Peacemaker Team member, Tom Fox, has saddened us all. Please remember him and his friends and family in your Badaliya prayer and also all those who have been willing to risk their lives in service of peacemaking throughout the world. One our members who worked with Tom in Iraq sent the following:

If you want to read Tom's blog, it is at


Photos are at http://www.cpt.org/gallery

If you want to send condolences to Tom's family, send them to Family of Tom Fox, c/o Christian Peacemaker Teams, P.O. Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680-6508

It is natural at this time to focus on the Christian Lenten 40 day fast for our further reflection this month. I would like to invite you to bring your experience to our gathering and share any Biblical, Qur'anic, or other spiritual writings or rituals that you have found helpful in this call to return to the Lord with all your heart and mind.

All three Abrahamic faiths have in common the traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving and Lent has come to encompass all three for Christians on our journey to greater freedom to love others as God has loved us. As a spiritual practice Fasting is perhaps the least understood. Gandhi experienced fasting as a loving action of deep spiritual meaning when entered into as an atonement for the sins of violence that he saw so much of in his struggle to reslove conflict through nonviolent means. It is clear why Louis Massignon was so drawn to the spirit of Gandhi who he saw as the personification of Badaliya, substitutionary prayer.

According to one of our members from India, not many people even there recognize that Gandhi's fasting was a means of taking onto himself the suffering of others and being the prayer for them that they were not yet able to enter into themselves. When he saw violent uprisings he turned to fasting, realizing that what he was asking of the people in seeking their true freedom they were not yet ready for. He saw it as his own failure and sought the way of fasting as a cleansing and atoning prayer.

Our Muslim brothers and sisters experience the one month fast of Ramadan each year as another way of healing their relationships with others and deepening their experience of God. Some describe the experience of fasting from sunrise to sunset every day for a month as increasing their abiity to focus, a heightening of awareness, and sharpening of attention. Ramadan always includes almsgiving and healing of conflicts with others and a great building of community as they go from one home of friends to another for the ritual breaking of the fast every evening.

I believe that when Massignon fasted every First friday before the Badaliya gatherings in the evening he too fasted from sunrise to sunset in communion with his Muslim friends and that his experience of it was much like Gandhi's description that follows:

"A genuine fast cleanses the body, mind, and soul. It crucifies the flesh and to that extent sets the soul free. A sincere prayer can work wonders. It is an intense longing of the soul for its even greater purity. Purity thus gained when it is utilized for a noble purpose becomes a prayer. Fasting and prayer therefore are a most powerful process of purification, and that which purifies necessarily enables us the better to do our duty and attain our goal. If therefore fasting and prayer seem at times not to answer, it is not because there is nothing in them but because the right spirit is not behind them". (Young India. March 24,1920)

Peace to you.