April 19, 2009.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday April 19, 2009 from 3 pm 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 the midst of the Easter Season on our journey toward Pentecost the church invites us to reflect on the mysteries we have experienced during Holy Week; the meaning of our renewed baptismal promises, the renewal of our life in Christ resurrected and the hope and joy in the fullness of life that the Easter event represents. Perhaps Oscar Romero, Bishop of El Salvador who was assasinated on March 25, 1980, the Feast of the Annunciation, speaks most clearly to us of these mysteries and our call to Badaliya:

"My life has been threatened many times. I have to confess that as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people...As a shepherd, I am obliged by divine law to give my life for those I love, for the entire Salvadoran people, including those Salvadorans who threaten to assassinate me. If they should go as far as to carry out their threats, I want you to know that I now offer my blood to god for justice and the resurrection of El Salvador...My death will be for the liberation of my people and a testimony of hope for the future. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."

In Romero's homily at the Cathedral in San Salvador the day before he was murdered he said:

"I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the Army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the Police, and the garrisons. Brothers and sisters, you belong to God's global family, the human family. You kill and torture your own bothers and sisters. In the face of an order to kill and torture that is given by a man, the law of God prevails that says: "Love one another" and "do not kill." No one is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin. Therefore, in the name of the victims of war, torture and military occupation, in the name of God: "Cease the war making, cease the torture, cease the killing, cease the repression!"
(From a prayer offered by Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington DC. on March 25, 2009).

We can not help universalizing Bishop Romero's words as they could so easily be seen as a plea for God's mercy for our own militarism, the recent invasion of Gaza in Palestine, the genocides in Africa and so many other human failures of compassion and acts of violence in our world today.

In his description of the Badaliya prayer Massignon suggested that we turn to Blessed Charles de Foucauld for our inspiration and reflection. In a letter written to Louis Massignon on July 15, 1916, a few months before he died, Brother Charles wrote:

"...If temptation overcomes us, it is becuase our love is too weak, not because it does not exist. Like Peter, we should weep, like him we should repent and humble ourselves, but also like him, we should say three times: "I love you, I love you. You know that despite my weaknesses and sins, I love you."

As for Jesus' love for us, he has proved it to us clearly enough for us to believe in it without being able to feel it..."

And in a letter to his cousin Mme. de Bondy written a few hours before he was killed on December 16, 1916 Foucuald wrote:

" ...Our own annihilation is the most powerful means we have of uniting ourselves to Jesus and doing good for people; it is what St. John of the Cross says in one way or another on almost every line. When we are able to suffer and to love, we are capable of much, we can do the greatest thing it is possible to do in this world...".

Let us pray that through the mysteries we have re-experienced of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus this past Holy Week that we are given the grace to love much so that we can suffer with those who suffer, the essence of Badaliya, and in true compassion act always for the well-being of others.

Peace to you.