October 17, 2010.
We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday October 17, 2010 at 3pm at St. Pauls 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.
Massignon encouraged members of the Badaliya to pray in the spirit of the writings of Charles de Foucauld. The vision of these two spiritual legacies diverge in some aspects yet Foucauld remained a guiding light for Massignon throughout his life. We have to remember to keep in mind the time when Foucauld lived and that he died during World War I in 1916. His Union Sodalité was a stretch for the church of his time and yet he also believed that saving souls was only possible through conversion to Christianity. Although Massignon did try to explain his vision for the Badaliya and its relationship to Islam to Foucauld, he was not fully understood. Still Foucauld's experience led him to become a witness to his Christian faith by the way that he lived it. He was a sower of seeds planted by loving kindness and nurtured by serving the needs of the Touareg community around him.
Louis Massignon met Charles de Foucauld in Paris in 1909. Massignon symbolically dated the establishment of Foucauld's vision of a world wide "brotherhood" of Christians, both lay and religious, praying and living what he called the "evangelical life", to that astounding all night vigil at the Sacré-Coeur in Paris on February 21st to 22nd. On their first meeting Foucauld invited the young Massignon to accompany him for this night long prayer of Adoration.
The Union Sodalité was Foucauld's dream of a way to spiritually unite Christians thoroughout the world. In a letter written on January 3, 1912 to a friend, J. Hours, Foucauld wrote:
"It is certain that beside the priests there must be Priscilla and Acquila, able to see what the Priest does not see, penetrating where the Priest cannot penetrate, going to those who flee from the Priest, evangelizing through contact that is beneficial, through overflowing kindness for all, through self-giving affection always available."
At the onset of World War I, which became known in Europe as the hoped for last "Great War", Foucauld remained in the Sahara serving the Touareg people in Tamanrasset and writing to his cousin in Paris of his determination to keep life there as normal as possible by remaining calm and keeping to his regular routine as an example to the community. On December 12, 1914 he wrote to Louis Massignon of the "tempest" in France:
" ...that God brings something good for souls out of this test! Here so many of our subjects, our Muslims in France, so many are spilling their blood with us and for us. Pray for them, do everything that can be useful for their souls; be good for them, make us love them .... While they are with us do everything possible for them ... I very much count on you to help me..."
He hoped that the outcome would be that these French Muslims would come to Christianity.
In his Annual Letter written to members of the Badaliya at Christmas in 1950 Massignon wrote of his understanding of the call to Badalya and to substitutionary prayer:
"The Badaliya is neither a rule of prayer nor a systematic method of propagating the faith.The Badaliya is a way of putting ourselves at the spiritual disposal of Jesus in His desire for souls, so that we can answer His call in their place. This is a spiritual displacement through which we offer Him hospitality in those other souls, with complete humility, modesty and faith. The deepening of this spirit does not preclude our going to pray in the blessed places where our patron saints offered themselves to souls in the spirit of "Badaliya", whether we transport ourselves there mentally or whether we make the actual journey, (provided it is occasioned by grace and not by curiosity)."
Both of these spiritual giants offer us a wealth of material for our own reflections and interpretations for our own time.
Peace to you.