February 15, 2009.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday February 15, 2009 from 3pm to 4:30 pm 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.

In keeping with the concern for every world conflict and especially for the Holy Land in Louis Massignon's original letters to members of the Badaliya during his lifetime, let us pray specifically for the community of Holy Family Parish in Gaza City. This is the only Catholic Parish, with other Christians including one Orthodox community, the Sisters of the Rosary who run a Catholic High School and the Near East Council of Churches that has three clinics to serve the needs of thousands of children and families in the Palestinian communities struggling to survive in Gaza. The pastor of Holy Family Parish is Msgr. Manuel Musallam whose message was read at a special Mass for Peace in Jerusalem on January 4th, " .... The word love is choking in my throat....We cry and nobody hears us. I am asking God for mercy and pray that the light of Christianity continues to shine in Gaza." (America January 19-26,2009. p. 6) Other voices, such as the retired Latin Patriach of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, realize clearly that Muslims and Christians and Jews all suffer in military solutions and no family living in Israel and Palestine is left unharmed. Massingnon might say that Christ is suffering His passion in the pain and losses of every human victim of violence, even in those who do not know Him. In his letters Massignon named names and described situations asking for Badaliya to join their suffering through substutionary prayer and inviting them to pray for peace and justice through a conscious search for truth and holiness.

Louis Massignon saw the incarnation of holiness in three key figures who inspired him throughout his life. The first was the Sufi mystic and martyr of Islam, al Hallaj. The second was the hermit and desert priest, Charles de Foucauld and the third was Mahatma Gandhi, the Hindu whose search for truth led to a non-violent revolution and ultimately to a democratic state in India.All three became Massignon's personal intercessors in his own spiritual and public life and the sacrifice of their lives for the truth of their convictions was a martrydom to the power of Love to transform human lives. The Badaliya prayer movement was founded on Massignon's experience of these three holy persons as supreme witnesses to the efficacy of substitutionary prayer.

To the end of his life Massignon was a member of the Friends of Gandhi, In a letter written to them he wrote:

"This notion of sacred hospitality that I have developed for years, since 1908, when Foucauld supported me like an older brother, seems essential to me in seaching for the Truth between human beings, in our journeys and our work, here below, until the threshold of heaven.

Hallaj and Gandhi have strongly made me understand, they who have given 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 that found in the richest in intelligence, power and fortune".
(Textes choisis et présenté par Camille Drevet. "Massignon et Gandhi: La Contagion de la Verité" 1967 Les Éditions du Cerf. p. 139).

In his letters to the ashram Gandhi wrote:

"By cultivating tolerance for the conceptions of others we acquire as our own a truer comprehension ....The fact of accepting the doctrine of the equality of religions does not make the distinctions between religion and irreligion disappear....But we love our irreligious brother and because of it our love will finish by triumphing over the animosity that he may have....Be without impatience towards those who we might believe to be in error and be ready, if necessary to suffer for them". (ibid. p. 104)

In a letter to a Trappist Priest written May 19, 1898, Foucuald wrote:

"One must pass through the desert and live there to receive the Grace of God; it is there that we empty ourselves, that we chase from ouelves all that s not God and that we completely empty this small house of our soul in order to leave the whole place to God alone. The Hebrews passed through the desert, Moses lived there before receiving his mission, Saint Paul, Saint Jean Chrysostome also prepared themselves in the desert....It is indispensible....It is a time of Grace, it is a period of time through which every soul who wishes to bear fruit must necessarily pass. The soul must have this silence, meditation, this forgetting of everything created, in the middle of which God establishes His reign and forms in it the interior spirit. The intimate life with God, the conversation of the soul with God in faith, hope and love. Later the soul will produce the fruits exactly to the measure in which the interior person will be formed by the soul".
(Barrat, Denise et Robert. "Charles de Foucauld et la fraternité" 1958, 2002 éditions du Seuil p. 84)

Peace to you.