June 14, 2009

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday June 14, 2009 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.

As this is our final Badaliya gathering before our summer break in July and August I am including the formal prayers that we repeat aloud together at our monthly gatherings so that those who wish to continue the Badaliya prayer during the sumner may make use of them. The Opening prayer is an English translation of the prayer that Massignon describes in his own Badaliya letters written from 1947 to 1962. Because the Badaliya prayer movement was established in the Eastern Church and was meant to encourage Christians to remain in Egypt at the time and to "cross over" to their Muslim neighbors in friendship and sincere desire for their wellbeing through the Badaliya prayer of substitution, he wished for those who could do so to pray in Arabic in solidarity with the Muslim community. They prayed the Opening Surah of the Qur'an during Muslim Holy days such as during the month of Ramadan. Therefore we have learned the prayer in Arabic and say it together during our gatherings. Included here is an English description as well as a transliteration of the Surah. In closing we have adopted a final prayer that speaks to us most poignantly of the essence of the Badaliya prayer of substitution.

Louis Massignon was deeply concerned about the three Abrahamic faith traditions in the Holy Land and wrote many articles and gave many talks that we have often cited in these letters. (See ww.dcbuck.com, click on Badaliya prayer on the Home page.) As a result of our increasing awareness of the tensions in Israel/ Palestine and the reality that a Christian presence is slowly disappearing from the Land where Jesus walked, members of the St. Paul's community in Cambridge, MA have begun the process of establishing a Partner Parish with St. Justin's in Nablus, Palestine. We are working closely with the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation with offices in Maryland, USA and Bethlehem, Palestine. (See www.hcef.org) The HCEF works with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in supporting Christian Schools in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. These schools serve the local population of both Muslim and Christian children.

Ten of us from St. Paul's joined a pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Jesus to the Holy Land and have just returned. With the help of the HCEF we were able to meet members of St. Justin's and their Pastor in Bethlehem. Taking Massignon's prayer for Peace and Justice seriously and guided by how he himself worked diligently for social justice as an outcome of his intense Badaliya prayer, we too ask for your prayers in our living out of our call to Badaliya. Our experience in the Holy Land has reinforced our compassion for the "living stones" who are our connection to the roots of our faith and our dedication to the peace process throughout the Holy Lands and the Middle East.

May your summer be blessed.

Peace to you.

Prayer of the Badaliya

Louis Massignon (1934)

I. Praise:

Exalt God all ye nations
Praise God all ye peoples
For God bestowed mercy upon us
and God's Truth is everlasting.

II. Supplication:

God take and receive all my freedom
memory, intellect and will
with all I have and everything I possess.
You gave it to me and I am giving it all
back to you, God.
Do whatever you will with it
Only bless me with your love and bounty


One of the first prayers in the Qur'an memorized very early by every Muslim child, the Surat el-Fatiha is the opening Sura (verse) of the Qur'an. The language of Islam and the Qur'an is Arabic and therefore all Muslims learn to chant the verses in this ancient and poetic language. The Fatiha is a wonderful summary of Muslim belief that God is the Lord of all being, entirely separate from the world yet forever present and aware, providing a Path from darkness into light and a direction for worship and praise:

Surah el-Fatiha
The Opening

"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise be to God, the Lord of all being.
The Merciful, the Compassionate.
Master of the Day of Judgement.
It is you alone that we serve,
It is only from you that we seek aid
Guide us on the straight path.
The path of those whom you have blessed.
Not of those with whom you are displeased.
Nor of those who go astray."

(Translated by Matthew S. Gordon)

Surah 1 Al-fatiha
The Opening

1. Bismi-l-laahi-r-raHmaani-r-raHiim
2. Al-Hamdu-lillahi rabbi-l-'aalamiin
3. Ar-raHmaani-r-raHiim
4. Maaliki yawmi-d-diin
5. 'Iyyaaka na'budu wa 'iyyaaka nasta'iin
7. SiraaTa-l-ladhiina 'an 'amta 'alayhiim
ghayri-l-maghDuubi 'alayhiim wa-laa-d-Daaliin

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.