March 18, 2012.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, March 18, 2012 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.

Our Lenten spiritual journey continues to challenge us to take our spiritual life in Christ entirely seriously. As disciples of Jesus we are called to grow more and more deeply in our commitment to transformation of heart and mind and soul that He becomes more and more alive in us as we become more and more alive in Him. This is the Gift that Lent invites us to accept and trust knowing that it will inevitably lead us to the Cross, where we too will die to our selfishness, self aggrandizement, pride, and critical instincts to be able to rise with Him to new life and the ultimate joy of resurrection. It begins with prayer and self reflection, discernment, and contemplation of "every word that comes from the mouth of God". We are learning to love others as God has loved us. Louis Massignon wrote:

"If it is true, my God, as You have said it Yourself, that to die proves completely to the friends for whom we die, that we love, let us premeditate together on how to die with Him in order to prove to them how much God desires them."

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to travel to the Middle East, to the Holy Land or to any Muslim country we remember how the rhythm of the day is defined by the muezzin's Call to Prayer from the minarets. Five times throughout the day into the evening devout Muslims stop what they are doing and submit themselves again and again to their reliance on the Mercy of God, Allah, in their daily lives. The name Islam itself means "submission". We have a precedence for that same rhythm in the Christian monastic communities of prayer world wide that stop their busy lives to pray the Divine Office, made up of the 150 psalms, readings and communal prayers throughout the day, every day.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld suggested praying the Angelus three times a day. In his time they were marked by the Church bells that rang out their call every morning, noon and evening to remind the faithful all over Europe to stop and pray.

Massignon reminds us that entering more and more fully into life in God, who is Love itself, also means becoming more loving, more accepting of others, kinder. Massignon puts it this way in the Statutes of the Badaliya:

"There is only one love, and it is God Himself, the love of the only One for the only One, of the lover for the beloved, of Jesus for the Father that he has given to us. We will only have on high, Foucauld said, that which we have given here below. The immortal life of our soul will only be "beatified" if it is totally united from here below in love. Nothing other than the Gift will remain of us, this spirit of life that we will have communicated to our neighbor, to other members of Christ, through our substitution for them, our hospitality to His Body and His Blood, to his Angels and his Saints, and our tenderness toward his Mother. Our life of naked faith will no longer be an obscure premonition but conscious of being realized."

Deepening our awareness of God's presence in our lives must remind us of our brothers and sisters, Muslims and Christians who are suffering for their freedom from oppression and for their human right to dignity and equality in many countries in the Middle East but especially in Syria at this time. There our dear friend in Badaliya, Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, SJ, and his community of faith, Deir Mar Musa, are threatened by the increasing violence around them. Please pray that their commitment to Badaliya, to living in the Middle East and serving the people in the Muslim and small Christian villages around them, in non-violent solidarity, is protected. They serve others as true witnesses to the Love of Christ for all people. Pray for their safety.

Peace to you.

(Massignon quotes from: Louis Massignon Badaliya: au nom de l'autre (1947-1962) présenté et annoté par Maurice Borrmans et Françoise Jacquin.Cerf 2011. Annual Letter # 1, p.62-63)