November 18, 2012

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, November 18, 2012 from 3:00 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 encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

In the last few weeks thousands of Muslim pilgrims completed the Hajj to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the fith Pillar of Islam. All adult Muslims who are physically and financially able are to make this pilgrimage journey at least once in their lifetime.The image of more than two million unidentified men and women all dressed in white garments and praying together in unison is an inspiring example of human equality and faith in God for all of us. Our Muslim brothers and sisters have a rich prayer tradition that invites us to share our own with them in this gathering. The history of inter-faith dialogue and prayer is part of the history of the original Badaliya.

On December 8th, 2002 in response to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 here in the United States, a small group gathered together in the Boston area to revive the spirit of Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil's Badaliya prayer. At that time there was a great need for the Christian community to learn about Muslims and Islam as well as delving deeply into the larger meaning of the prayer of substitution, or Badaliya. Massignon advised members of the original Badaliya to turn to his friend and mentor, Blessed Charles de Foucauld for inspiration for their monthly gatherings and on this tenth anniversary of our Badaliya let us listen to his words again. On April 19,1911 Foucauld wrote:

"The more and more your heart enlarges, the more and more you will love, not only God alone, but first God and then all his creatures for Him...the more and more you feel the need to imitate the Beloved only in order to be made one with Him, the more you will love like Him, be one heart with Him, "It is no longer I who lives, it is Jesus - the Heart of Jesus- who lives in me' "

(Six, Jean-François 1958. Itinéraire Spirituel de Charles de Foucauld Paris, Éditions du Seuil, p. 96)

Today Blessed Charles de Foucauld's prayer invites us to grow in compassion and love of all other human beings and especially for our brothers and sisters of all three Abrahamic faith traditions.The original Badaliya established in Egypt by Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil made its home in a center in the rectory of Our Lady of Peace in Cairo that they called the Dar es-Salam, the House of Peace. They dedicated this center to both the Christian and the Muslim worlds and sponsored over 130 International Conferences. The Dar es-Salam provided a sanctuary for Islamic/Christian dialogue through an organization formed by Father Ayrout and some Islamic professors in 1941 called Ikhwan es Safa, The Sincere Brothers. This organization was dissolved under Nassar's regime and re-created by Mary and the former minister of Health, Doctor Abdo Essallam in 1975. By then Mary was in her 80's. Meetings were held every three weeks at Dar es-Salam. In a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere Christians and Muslims came together to present their different points of view and try to understand one another better. Each meeting closed with a prayer recited together in Arabic:

"We come to you together with our hearts filled with goodwill and respect. We beg you to grant us constant support. May your light, which guides us on straight paths, make us sincere in the adoration we give to you that we are counseled and guided by those sent by you and by your prophets and that we bring about what pleases you, while each of us stay loyal to our faith and religion, love our neighbors, and always go forward on the way to progress and success."

(Massignon, Louis: L'Hospitalité Sacrée 1987, Unpublished texts presented by Jacques Keryell, Paris, Nouvelle Cité, p.375)

May we be blessed in this gathering as we share our traditions of love of God through prayer and continue to pray together for Peace and Reconciliation, especially in Syria and throughout the Holy Lands in the Middle East.

Peace to you.