October 29,2006.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, October 29, 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, in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In remaining faithful to Louis Massignon's letters to the first members of the Badaliya Prayer from 1947 to his death in 1962, let us begin our prayer this month for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Eastern Churches especially in Iraq, who have asked for our prayers. Below I am including a letter from Eustathius Matta Roham, Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Jazirah & Euphrates of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, for those that have not yet received it. Let us pray that the abduction and subsequent assassination of Father Boulos Iskander Behnam in Iraq last week not be in vain, but rather lead us to a deeper awareness of the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East. May God help us to stand with them in solidarity in their efforts to share life and build bridges of peace and reconciliation with their Muslim brothers and sisters in the midst of the pain and suffering they are all experiencing.

Pease pray for the soul of Dr. Edmund Hanauer, who died suddenly in August, and for his wife and family. Dr. Hanauer was the founding director for 40 years of Search for Justice. He was a Jewish American who spoke out in newspaper articles, letters to the editors, and in speaking engagements all over the United States for equal coverage in the media of Palestinians and Israelis. He was truly "a voice in the wilderness" speaking out for truth and Justice for all.

Tuesday marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Louis Massignon who died on the Vigil of All Saints Day, October 31, 1962. At the request of the town of Pordic in Brittany where the Massignon Family tomb is located, The Association of Friends of Louis Massignon organize an evening honoring Louis Massignon every year at this time. It is held in the Cultural Center there which is dedicated to him.

It was very important to Louis Massignon to pray in solidarity with the Muslim community during the month long fast of Ramadan which is being celebrated by our Muslim brothers and sisters this month. In solidarity with his Muslim friends, Massignon joined their fast each Friday during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Fast of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam followed by Muslim believers. It falls during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar because that is the month when the Prophet Muhammed received the first revelation of the Qur'an. Devout Muslims abstain from food, drink and sexual activity from dawn to sunset every day for the month. In Islam the discipline of the Ramadan fast is intended to stimulate reflection on human frailty and dependence on God, focusing attention on spiritual goals and values, and identification with, and response to those less fortunate. At dusk the fast is broken and families and friends gather for special late night meals with specialties only served at this time of year. Many go to the Mosque for evening prayer, some recite the entire Qur'an in parts divided throughout the month and rise before dawn for their first meal of the day. At the end of Ramadan two major feasts are celebrated. On the 27th day,the "Night of Power" is comemorated, when Muhammed received his first revelation. And at the end of the month of fasting there is the feast of the Breaking of the Fast, called Eid al-Fitr resembling Christmas in its joyfulness and gift giving.

At the opening of the month of Ramadan here in Boston several members of our Badaliya attended the 4th Annual Peace and Dialogue Iftar Dinner (breaking of the fast) offered by the Boston Dialogue Foundation, a Muslim organization promoting Interfaith Dialogue and encouraging Respect and tolerance. The inspiration we received that evening in sharing a meal with our Muslim neighbors was a great sign of hope for all of us.

As we gather together this week it seems important to renew the Spirit of the Badaliya prayer that Massignon envisioned. It was originally meant to offer life to those Christians living in the Muslim world and to encourage them to be a silent, yet ever-present witness, to the love of Christ for all of humanity. For your further reflections I offer you a summary of Massignon's original goals written in 1947 for the members of the Badaliya, that we may be truly mindful of the difficulties facing all Christians in the Middle East, especially in Palestine/Israel and Iraq. It is not difficult for us to envision them as an inspiration for our own efforts to seek out relations with our Muslim neighbors wherever we are.

"The Badaliya is addressed to Christians in the Orient.

It comes from the awareness of a particular responsibility of these Christians towards their Muslim brothers among whom they live. They have a providential mission in relation to them and would like to fulfill it.

Moreover having suffered and suffering still through them, they wish to practice the highest Christian charity towards them following the precept of our Lord, 'To love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you'.(Mt.5:44) and according to His example;

'When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him by the death of his Son...'. (Rom.5:10)"

The Gospels call all Christians to work and pray for the salvation of all human beings and Badaliya members are invited particularly to pray for their Muslim neighbors as they witness through their own lives, Christ's love for all.

"Salvation does not necessarily mean exterior conversion. It is already gaining a lot that a greater number belonging to the soul of the Church (members of the Badaliya) live and die in a state of grace."

Peace to you.

The letter from Damascus:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope this email finds you in peace and health. I am writing you from Damascus, where I am attending the Holy Synod meetings. This evening, we were shocked with very sad news from Mousel, Iraq. Our priest Father Boulos Iskander was killed by shooting. Three days ago he was kidnapped by a fanatic group as consequences of H.H. Pope Benedict's recent speech. They forced the community in Mousel to write 30 large posters denying what His Holiness had cited in respect with Mohammad, the prophet of Islam. Although their request was done, the fanatics killed the priest. The Bishop of Mousel H.G. Saliba Chamoun received the tragic news during the evening session of the Holy Synod. He immediately left the meetings returning to Mousel to be with the faithful at this very difficult time.

I wanted to share this news with you in order to convey to you the image of the hard time Christians are facing in the region.

I kindly ask you to mention the martyr Father Boulos Iskander in your prayers.

Please include all our churches, especially in Iraq, in your prayers.

Sincerely yours,
Eustathius Matta Roham
Archbishop of Jazirah & Euphrates

Declaration Issued by the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Damascus, Syria

During the sessions of the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch held in Damascus under the patronage of His Holiness, Patriarch Zakka I Iwas, and the participation of the bishops of the Syrian Orthodox Church worldwide, we received the tragic, painful news of the death of the Revd. Father Boulos Iskander Behnam. Fr. Behnam was one of our priests in Mousel. According to the heads of Christian denominations in Iraq, Fr. Behnam died at the hands of extremist terrorists, people disconnected from humane, spiritual or ethical values.

Our Holy Synod expresses deepest regrets that this shameful crime took place. It touches all noble citizens of our beloved Iraq. The Synod denounces this horrible deed and calls upon the international conscience of those in authority to put an end to the bitter suffering of the Iraqi people. We invite all those in positions of authority and influence to continue their diligent efforts in spreading peace and security, so that the citizens of Iraq may resume normal life in their historic homeland within a framework of national unity.

May God protect Iraq and its people from adversity and affliction. May the coming days be full of peace, love, fraternity and prosperity.

13 October 2006

Revd. Father Boulos Iskander Behnam