June 13, 2010.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday June 13, 2010 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.

This year our Badaliya prayer has been focused on our relationship with Palestinians living in the Holy Land who continue to struggle for a just peace in Israel and Palestine. Members of the Badaliya at St. Paul's have worked toward establishing a partner parish with a community in the West Bank. Our goal is to form a relationship with members of a community of Christians who are the "living stones" and witnesses of Christ in the Holy Land. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, true "substitute" witnesses for us, in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, in villages throughout the Holy Land. The pain and suffering of Muslim and Christian Palestinians, as well as those Jewish neighbors who have been willing to work with them toward peace and reconciliation at the grass roots level, speaks to the truth of Badaliya and our prayer of substitution. "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another". (Jn. 13:35)

From the very beginning the Badaliya prayer was envisioned as a prayer of and for Christians in the East who were living in the midst of their Muslim neighbors. It was a way of supporting Christians and "crossing over" to Muslims, and a profound desire for reconciliation of all three Abrahamic faith traditions. Like Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon experienced the "fiat" of Mary in Nazareth as the heart of Christian life and prayer that always leads us to Jesus. In his explanation of the Badaliya written in 1947 he wrote:

"[Substitution is realized] by gradually living, starting from the House in Nazareth, the growing "fiat" of Christ and His Passion within us that started with the "fiat" of Mary. And through that, tending little by little to chastity, to the total detachment from oneself, (tawakkul, taslîm), [abandonment, surrender],to this grace in perfect transparency that we associate with such spiritual fecundity, like the Virgin, to divine Paternity. By admiring Jesus in our brothers and sisters, loving Him in them, we love them more. To pray for all their ancestors, all past generations, because, for us, every man is the "ambassador" for all his relatives whose destiny enters into his own, and through it, enters into our prayer. And not like a dead weight but like the beginnings of a more beautiful and real future".

Territories including Nazareth and other parts of the territory originally designated by the United Nations as part of a Paletinian State were taken by the Israeli army on July 17, 1948. At that time Massignon cried out at the scandal in a brief article written on August 23rd for "Christian Witness". In the second annual letter written in 1948 to members of the Badaliya he wrote:

"A Jewish writer, Elian Finbert, recently wrote that Christianity is now withdrawing from the East after poisoning it, and rushing back to the West where it will die. "The one who wishes to save his life shall lose it". The Latin Christian charities, contemplative convents and schools, must "connect", right now more than ever, with the East in the spirit of the "Badaliya-ites", namely by substituting themselves more than ever for the souls of their Eastern Muslim brothers, in the name of the Eastern Christians. Otherwise, their native countries, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Belgium, will lose their religious faith because they will have ceased to practice apostolic charity toward their forsaken Eastern brothers who are in no condition to fulfill their vocation alone as witnesses to Christ on Islamic soil. This is an honor-bound duty, that I am not the only one, thank God, to feel distressed about out of the depths of my impotence. One of the great voices of the Church, echoing the pontifical encyclical of October 24th repeated it to me for your sake:"Let us die, when honor dies". (Chesterton) (and this is one word from this "Badaliya" that pierced me as Nazareth was being abandoned this summer)".

May we too remember not to abandon our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land nor their Muslim and Jewish neighbors.

This will be our final gathering before our summer break. Gatherings will resume in September. May the summer be a time of rest and spiritual renewal for you. Please continue to pray for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. Pray also for the canonization of the patron saint of our Badaliya USA, the Palestinian known as "the Little Arab", Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (1846-1878).. Here is her prayer:

"Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God, consume me.
On the true path lead me.
Mary, my Mother, look down upon me.
With Jesus bless me.
From all evil, from all illusion
From all danger, preserve me".

Peace to you.