We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday October 19, 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.
Hospitality toward the stranger is a value in the Middle East that was adopted by Louis Massignon through his relationship with Islamic culture. He called this central aspect of his spirituality, Sacred Hospitality. His struggle for nonviolent justice and human rights increased over the years, influenced by his encounter with Gandhi who became his model, and by his correspondence with Blessed Charles de Foucauld. His letters to members of the Badaliya and his many articles were often scathing commentaries on the injustices of His time, and unfortunately in our own.
"Forty years of travelling in Islamic lands have led me to test this conviction, that if Islam has survived the loss of their economic and technical territory, it is in order to guard for the world in the heart of simple and naive Muslims - villagers and nomads -, (that the cities not be polluted) a massive reserve, infinitely precious, of faith in the divine promises, faith that is translated by the welcoming of every foreign visitor as of the Guest, the image of God, the angel sent to Abraham at Mamre". (Respect for the human person in Islam, and the priority of the right of asylum under the obligation of just war. in Opera Minora vol.III p. 549.)
In 1948 he wrote:
"According to the doctrine of truth, the first true principle, that of hospitality, must consist in the repatriation of the most unfortunate by considering them as unexpulsable guests...It is necessary to give Gandhian instructions to the International Refugee Organization so that the UN would have a little impassioned respect for refugees, the excluded, the foreigners, for the untouchables that [Gandhi] this admirable man who the world has lost, tried to teach to his own, and for that he was killed, by his own...." (That which is the Holy Land for the human communities who demand justice" in Monde Nouveau, June/July 1948. Opera Minora p. 473-474.
In a lecture in 1957 he said:
" ...This notion of sacred hospitality, that I have [allowed to] ripen over the years since 1908 when Foucauld supported me like an older brother, seems essential to me in searching for the Truth, between humans, in our journeys and our work here below until the threshhold of the hereafter.
Hallaj and Gandhi powerfully made me understand, they, who gave everything to the God of Truth, giving their life and their death for the most abandonned and the most unfortunate of human beings, respecting in them, venerating in them, an image of God more transparent than in the rich and intelligent, powerful and fortunate..."(honor of comarades at work and the word of truth. lecture at the Philosophical College February 27, 1957 in Opera Minoa vol. III p. 842-843)
It is my own conviction that the older we become the more sensitive we are to the violence and destruction that seem to overpower human beings as they move farther and farther from the values of Sacred Hospitality and compassion that Massignon calls us back to with fervent pleas. May we learn from his example of prayer leading to action, to witness to and advocate for justice and nonviolent peaceful resolutions in the conflicts in the Middle East and the world.
Peace to you.