November 16, 2008

Dear Friends,

On Sunday November 16, 2008 from 1:30pm-3:30pm the Badaliya prayer group at St. Paul's Church in Cambridge, MA, USA will co-sponsor a special presentation by the President and co-founder of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Sir Rateb Rabie,KCHS entitled, "The Living Stones; Palestinian Christians, Witnesses of Christ in the Holy Land". Please join us in person or in spirit as we learn about the many programs offered through the HCEF that are designed to help Americans establish relationships with the Palestinians struggling to survive in the Holy Land and as we continue to pray for peace and reconciliation throughout the Middle East.

In his letters to members of the Badaliya prayer community Louis Massignon (1883-1962) often mentions a young Melkite Carmelite nun known as "The Little Arab". Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified lived from 1846 to 1878. She died at the age of 33 in the Carmelite Monastery in Bethlehem. On November 13, 1983 she was beatified, the first step in the process of officially being named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. In his letters Massignon refers to Mariam Baouardy as the "little Arab Carmelite of Bethlehem" and saw her future beatification as a mission and means to assuring the safety of the holy sites in the Holy Land.
.(Taken from Sufi, Issue 62, Summer 2004 Louis Massignon and Mariam Baouardy(Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified):A Palestinian Saint for Our Time by Dorothy C. Buck available at

When the Badaliya prayer movement was recreated in December 2002 we adopted Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified as the Patroness of our Badaliya USA along with the patroness of Massignon's original Badaliya,Our Lady of Pokrov, also known as Our Lady of the Veil. Blessed Mariam was the founder of the Carmelite Monastery in Bethlehem. She was born in Ibillin, Galilee where in recent times the well known Melkite Priest, Elias Chacour founded a kindergarten in her name followed by primary, secondary and technical schools open to all faith traditions, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Druze. A University is now being established there. As a Palestinian citizen of Israel Fr. Chacour's efforts have required overcoming many obstacles.
(See, read Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour, University of Notre Dame Press 2001,2007)

Massignon's concern about the welfare of the Holy Land and for the need for all three Abrahamic faith traditions to maintain an equal presence there is clear in his writings about Palestine and Jerusalem. In 1948 he wrote:

"Every attempt to divide the Holy Land between rivals, and also every attempt of abandonment of this unique symbol of the future Union of humanity in Israel alone, by excluding Christianity or Islam, is not realisable."

"The salvation of the world depends more and more on Israel, of the character that it imprints by its return to the country.It will only be able to stay if it accepts, with a supreme international control, to live in equality, with the Muslims (in which Jerusalem is the first and the last "qibla") and with the Christians who are all natives born in Nazareth, through the Marian"fiat' of the Annunciation"

(Louis Massignon Ce qu'est la terre Sainte pour les communautes humaines qui demandent Justice 1948 (p.288, 489) in Opera Minora vol III textes recueillis, classes et presentes avec une bibliographie par Y. Moubarac Dar Al-Maaref Liban. 1963).

As we gather together to further Massignon's vision of justice, equality and spiritual presence in the Holy Lands that ground our faith traditions in spirit and place, I invite you to pray the closing prayer of the Badaliya USA's monthly gatherings with us:

The Prayer of the Badaliya USA (anonymous circa.1975)

I pray for you.... that does not mean that from time to time I pronounce certain words while thinking of you. It means that I feel responsible for you in my flesh and in my soul, that I carry you with me as a mother carries her child; That I wish to share, I wish to draw entirely upon myself all the harm and all the suffering that menaces you. And I offer to God all my darkness so that He may return it to you in light.

Peace to you.