November 20. 2011.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, November 20, 2011 from 3 pm to 4:30 pm 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.

As the Arab people raise their voices in countries throughout the Middle East and continue their call for an end to oppression our prayer of Badaliya is more than ever needed. Our friendships with our Arab neighbors both in these countries and in the diaspora provides our moral support for the non-violent "revolutions" that are changing our world dramatically in ways yet to be seen. Despite the attempts to sustain peaceful demonstrations we have watched with horror the response by entrenched dictatorial regimes to the calls for reform. Keeping our friends at Mar Musa Monastery in Syria in mind and the Coptic Christians in Egypt, our hearts must be filled with admiration and compassion for our Palestinian friends, both Muslim and Christian who stand together for non-violent resistance in the face of continued imprisonments of teen-agers and adults, the up-rooting of age old olive groves and continued settlement building.

Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio from Deir Mar Musa tells how, when he was a student in Damascus, he was profoundly affected by the story of the life of the Prophet as it was being told by a well known Professor. The Prophet and his companions were subjected to attacks, insults, and torture by the citizens of Mecca at the time. Fr. Paolo wrote:

"In speaking about the humiliations that the Prophet had to endure in order to stay faithful to his mission, the Professor had to stop, overwhelmed, and remained silent as he dried his tears.
Now, my life teaches me that the only true humility is that which we are given by the grace of humiliation. Besides, this is a burning subject for universal spirituality."
(Paolo Dall'Oglio, SJ, Amoureux de L'Islam, Croyant en Jésus, Les Éditions de l'Atelier/Éditions Ouvrières, Paris, 2009. p, 122)

Surely, the Passion of Our Lord is our greatest witness and model of humilty, bathed in the shame of humiliation yet risen in triumph.

Our friend, Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian and American citizen who is a Professor at both Birzeit and Bethlehem Universities writes daily of the non-violent demonstrations that are taking place in Palestine weekly. He gives us real stories that attest to Fr. Paolo's vision of humility; of young people imprisoned at the age of 21 and not released for 9 or more years for non-violent resistant activities. Rather than being released to their homes in the West Bank they are released to Gaza where they know no one yet one young man spoke of how he was welcomed there as if family. He noted in an interview with Al-Quds in October of 2011 that all the resistance groups including Fatah (his group), the left groups, and the Islamic groups all respect and treat Christians and Muslim Palestinians the same. They feel that they are comrades. Ironically, he noted that Muslim and Christian Palestinians are also treated the same in the prisons, with the same cruelty. Mazin himself has been detained many times at these nonviolent demonstrations most often as he is filming others being arrested brutally as distraught villagers attempt to prevent the wall from being built that is encircling their whole village. Perhaps these examples of humiliation are the opening for true humility, or at least we pray that they lead to greater courage, faith and hope.

Louis Massignon also had much to say about non-violence. He wrote:

"....[non-violence] in fact requires an inner effort towards ascetic conversion by each person. It takes time to arrive at abstaining from rendering evil for evil, as does turning the other cheek. Non-violence is a personal matter, a gradual vocation, not an instant contagion of cowardice or a collective abdication of responsibility.The best of the non-violent are noble, all of their pride and their honor is internal and no insult or blow can violate it."
(Annual Letter #10 Louis Massignon. Badaliya, Au Nom de L'Autre (1947-1962) CERF, 2011. p. 255.)

"We are more than ever certain that the heroic weapon of non-violence will finally win and that human thought (which was capable of "splitting" the atom) will pierce the spiritual Heavens through the pure prayer of the meek, the persecuted and the outcasts."
(Ibid. Convocation # 62 Feb. 5, 1960.p. 149))

May we be ever aligned with the meek, the persecuted and the outcast for the glory of God and the hope of humanity.

Peace be with you.