We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday June 29, 2008 at 3pm at St. Paul's Church in Cambridge in the small chapel located in the 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.
For the last six years we have been inspired to recreate the spirit of the Badaliya prayer movement originally established by Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil in Cairo in 1934. We now number more than one hundred members in the United States and in countries around the world who are praying with us in person or in spirit every month. The spirit of the Badaliya prayer has encouraged us to struggle with this intense spiritual call, guided by Massignon's own writings and those of his friend and mentor, Blessed Charles de Foucauld along with the spiritual legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Massignon has invited us to engage with our Muslim and Jewish neighbors, to learn from them about their own faith traditions and enter into friendships that have not only enhanced our own faith experiences but enriched and nurtured his vision of the true relationship of these three faiths who are all children of Abraham. Our Boston Badaliya has been welcomed by St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Cambridge MA where we hold our monthly gatherings in the small chapel. To the images of the Carmelite Saints Teresa of Avila and Thérèse de Lisieux we have added icons of Massignon's original patron saint of the Badaliya, Our Lady of Pokrov (Our Lady of the Veil) and our own Palestinian patroness, Blessed Mariam of Jesus Christ Crucified (Maryam Baouardy).
Several years ago members of the Badaliya and the community at St. Paul's were invited to attend the annual Iftar dinner, (the breaking of the fast on the opening evening of the first day of Ramadan), sponsored by the Turkish Muslim community of the Boston Dialogue Foundation.Since then I was invited to be a speaker on the Challenges of Muslim and Christian Dialogue during the first year of events by the Lay Committee on Contemporary Spiritual & Public Concerns at St. Paul's Parish, and was invited to speak at the celebration of the Birthday of Muhammad for the Boston Dialogue Foundation. (posted on www.dcbuck.com).
For the past two years St. Paul's has hosted the annual Muslim celebration of Ashura with the participation of speakers from both the Sunni and Shi'a local Muslim communities.Our visit to Turkey, sponsored by the Boston Dialogue Foundation's Gulen fellowship, included a pilgrimage to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus and the House of Mary so revered by Louis Massignon as examples of shared Muslim and Christian beliefs and devotions. The Turkish poet, M. Fethullah Gülen's philosophy of interfaith and intercultural exchange and dialogue was evident in the hospitality offered to us by many Turkish families and organizations. This summer four members of the Badaliya prayer from St. Paul's will also take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to travel to Turkey with our Muslim friends from the Boston Dialogue Foundation.
Our outreach was extended by the establishment of a Muslim, Christian and Jewish women's interfaith sharing group. A highlight this year was an invitation to share in the Saturday prayer of the Bnai'Or Jewish community along with five members of the Cambridge Mosque in a very moving service of reconciliation. Our friends from Bnai'Or also attended our Muslim Ashura celebration at St. Paul's this year.
True to Massignon's call to social action evoked by the intensity of his own Badaliya prayer, the Badaliya at St. Paul's has co-sponsored several important events with the Lay Committee on Contemporary Spiritual-&-Public Concerns:
On April 13, 2008, Cathy Breen, humanitarian activist and Catholic Worker from Maryhouse in New York City, shared her experiences advocating and working on behalf of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, called We Wait With Them: Advocating for the Iraqi Refugees.Cathy brought the art work of some of her Iraqi friends, refugees from Baghdad who are now struggling to survive in Jordan.The Artist's Group at St. Paul's purchased one of these paintings that now hangs in the vestibule of the Catholic Student Center.
On Sunday May 18, 2008 at St. Paul's Church in Cambridge, members of the Badaliya and the Lay Committee on Contemporary Spiritual-&-Public Concerns co-sponsored an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the conversion experience of Louis Massignon that took place in Baghdad in 1908. Our event was entitled, The Influence of Islam on the Conversion of Three Great Christians: Louis Massignon, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and St. Francis of Assisi. Our lecturers included the Rev. Leonard Tighe, facilitator for the local chapter of Jesus Caritas, a lay fraternity inspired by Blessed Charles de Foucauld and the Rev. Romano S. Almagno, OFM, a Franciscan for fifty-one years and a close friend of the Franciscan Islamologist Father Giulio Basetti-Sani, a friend and student of Louis Massignon and an original member of the Badaliya prayer in Paris.
Many members of the Badaliya prayer share in the First Friday prayer for World Peace instigated by the Union Sodalité of Charles de Foucauld in Paris. This lay community was originally established in Paris in 1909 by Brother Charles and included Louis Massignon. In 1916 when Foucauld was killed during World War I, alone in the Sahara, Louis Massignon was the only one of the original 47 members who made sure that the hermit priest's legacy would survive. Before Massignon died in 1962 he asked Père Jean François Six to oversee the Union Sodalité in Paris which he has done to this day.
On July 26-27, 2008 the 54th shared Muslim and Christian pilgrimage at the chapel of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in Vieux Marché, Brittany, France will honor the 100th anniverary of the conversion of Louis Massignon. This annual pilgrimage takes place every year on the week-end following the feast of Mary Magdalen on July 22nd in the Latin calendar. As members of our Badaliya make their own pilgrimage to the original cave of the Seven Saints and to the fountain with seven veins near the House of Mary in Ephesus, Turkey, let us pray in solidarity with them and with the Muslim and Christian pilgrims in Vieux Marché this summer by remembering the vast research that Louis Massignon undertook to explore the tradition throughout its manifestations in folklore, legend and mythology and ultimately in the Eastern and Western Church as well as in Muslim traditions. Massignon wrote::
"It is appropriate besides to notice that under the different versions in this inventory, this celebrated legend presents itself right away in a clearly obscure ambiguity, typically Ephesian: in a Christian resurgence of the pagan "incubations" practiced in the temple of Diana, commented on in the visionary romantic manual by Artemidore who was a minefield for Freudian psychoanalsis;
and into this apocalyptic atmosphere, the juxtaposition, on the banks of Caystre, of the "Dormition" of Mary, the "metastasis" of John and the "solitude" of Mary Magdalene at the threshold of the cave.
It is precisely at this apocalyptic juxtaposition, before coming to the enumeration of the diverse traditions and Christian localities of the VII Sleepers outside of Ephesus, that it is advisable that we turn our attention now. It is important, in fact, to underline that their cult adds nothing other than support for the Marian mystery, Johanine and Magdelenian, of Ephesus, to the three witnesses to the Thrust of the Lance who await in a mysterious Dormition the promised Resurrection, already realized by the Assumption of Mary".
(Massignon. Le Culte des VII Dormants D'Ephese Opera Minora, recueillis par Y. Moubarac, Dar Al-Maaref-Liban 1963.p.123)
As we break for the summer let us join the pilgrims in spirit with hope for peace and reconciliation, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and friendship everywhere.
Peace to you and a blessed summer.