Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Barriers that Divide...

The BARRIERS, that people continue to build, divide, discriminate and separate persons and communities on the basis of beliefs, cultures and ethnicities...

We pray that the New Year 2007 will be a year of building bridges of understanding that will UNITE persons and nations into a compassionate COMMUNITY,,,

Pax et Bonum!

Jun Mercado, OMI

Dhikr for the Feast of the Holy Family...

Text: When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Luke 2: 48)

Meditation: Mary & Joseph gave us an example of loving care and concern for their son, Jesus… They looked for him “with great anxiety”. Do we do it, likewise, in our genuine search for the Lord…?

Visit: www.omigen.org/ipid


Friday, December 29, 2006

Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the ME...

National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East
December 12, 2006

The Honorable Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of StateU.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

We are writing on behalf of religious leaders of twenty-nine national Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations to ask for a meeting with you to discuss the urgent situation in the Middle East. We have also written members of Congress to encourage and support active, fair and firm leadership by the United States to promote a comprehensive and lasting Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. Enclosed you will find a copy of the remarkable consensus we achieved on “Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis to Hope.”

We acknowledge and appreciate your personal commitment to the creation of a viable, independent, and democratic Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, with security and peace for both peoples, and the crucial role you played in negotiations to reach an agreement on access to and from Gaza after the Israeli unilateral withdrawal (cf. our letter, 11/20/05).

Our statement comes at time when the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians raises hope for restarting negotiations and in the wake of the Baker-Hamilton Report that supports renewed efforts for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace as essential for achieving U.S. goals in the Middle East.

His Eminence Cardinal Theodore McCarrick expressed our present hopes very well when he acknowledged at the meeting that led to our new interreligious consensus, “We gather at a time of crisis in the Middle East. But times of crisis can also become opportunities for change.” The events and suffering in Gaza, Lebanon and Israel demonstrate once again that there is no such thing as a safe, stable status quo in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that there is no military solution to the conflicts. The only solution is a negotiated one based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions, realistic compromises, and monitored security arrangements with international guarantees.

In the aftermath of the war in Lebanon and in light of the ongoing crisis in Gaza, there is a new urgency for achieving an effective ceasefire and returning to the path of negotiations among Palestinians, Israelis and neighboring Arab states. This urgency is shared by European and other world leaders. While Palestinian and Israeli leaders have essential roles, U.S. leadership is crucial to halting the violence, and restarting and successfully completing Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab negotiations for peace.

The principles and practical ideas found in the Road Map, model peace agreements and earlier Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese negotiations provide important evidence that peace is possible. They help to define the reciprocal steps that will be necessary to achieve a just peace and they offer outlines of what could be accepted by majorities on all sides.
What is most needed now is a renewed commitment by the United States to provide active, creative and determined leadership, in coordination with the Quartet, as a top priority of U.S. foreign policy. Whatever develops in terms of a possible change of course for U.S. policy in Iraq, we believe a commitment by the Administration, with the support of Congress, to actively reengage in pursuing Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace is essential and will have positive reverberations in the region and around the world.

As members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative we are committed to working with the Administration and with Congress to support active, fair and firm U.S. leadership to help Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab states achieve a just peace. We commit ourselves to building public support for peace with justice for all in the region.

We look forward to receiving your response to our united appeal for a meeting to discuss this urgent matter.


Christian Leaders:
His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archdiocese of Washington*His Eminence, William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore*Most Reverend William Skylstad, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops*His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate, Greek Orthodox Church in America*His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate, Armenian Apostolic Church in America*Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America*Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop Episcopal Church*John H. Thomas, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ*The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)*The Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)*Ann B. Sherer, Bishop, The United Methodist Church*The Reverend Michael E. Livingston, President, National Council of Churches USA*The Reverend John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century*Richard J. Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary*The Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries*David Neff, Editor and Vice-President, Christianity Today*

Jewish Leaders:
Rabbi Harry K. Danziger, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis*Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis*Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism*Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism*Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism*Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector, University of Judaism*Dr. Carl Sheingold, Executive Vice President, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation*Rabbi Brant Rosen, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association*Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association*Rabbi Peter Knobel, Member, Council Parliament of World Religions*Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Vice President, A Different Future*Rabbi Merle S. Singer, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth El, Boca Raton, Florida*

Muslim Leaders:
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America*Imam Mohammed ibn Hagmagid, Vice President, Islamic Society of North America*Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder, American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)*Imam Yahya Hendi, Chaplain, Georgetown University*Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA*Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America*

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Blessed Christmas to all...

Wishing you all a Christmas full of love, prosperity and peace...!

In your midst, a saviour is born and his name is Jesus. He is Emmanuel - God is with us!

A prosperous New Year 2007!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Bethlehem Wall that divides...

Christmas is the season to breakdown walls and barriers that divide individuals, communities and nations!

The Lord is BORN... Allelulia. With his birth we are all empowered to tear down walls that divide...

A Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2007!

The Birth of Jesus - the Lord...

“And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ (Luke 2: 10-12)”

The challenge of Christmas, then and now, remains the same… to see and believe God’s life-giving presence in that child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2007!

Pax et Bonum!

Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI
25 December 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Catholic - Orthodox Dialogue as Witness...

Interview With Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion

ROME, DEC. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches "can give witness of Christ," says a Greek Orthodox prelate. Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion is director general of the Apostoliki Diaconia, which in the Greek Orthodox Church is in charge of the missions, the formation of seminarians and publishing.

Last spring Bishop Agathangelos came to visit Rome with a Greek-Orthodox delegation, to get to know better the tradition and culture of the Catholic Church. According to the bishop, it is important to discover everything that united the two Churches in the first millennium, when they were not yet divided, to get to know and listen to each other. He shared his views in this interview.

Q: What do you think of the relations between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church?

Bishop Agathangelos: John Paul II's visit to Greece in 2001 was decisive in the improvement of relations between our Churches. In the Areopagus, the Pope met with Christodoulos, the archbishop of Athens and All Greece. In the years after the visit, that is, since I have headed Apostoliki Diaconia, we have come closer in our relations with the Catholic Church, especially with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

One of the fruits of our collaboration is the preparation of a facsimile of the ancient and richly decorated manuscript "Menologium of Basil II" on the lives of the saints, which is kept in the Vatican Library. It is a most important work because it was made after the iconoclast period. This manuscript marks a turning point in the history of the Church of the East, which again begins to venerate icons and discovers the importance of beauty. On the occasion of the manuscript's publication, we invited the librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, to Athens, who brought greetings on behalf of Benedict XVI. On that occasion, Archbishop Christodoulos was invited to visit the Vatican.

Last year we offered, through the Apostolic Nunciature in Athens, scholarships to 30 Catholics so that they could visit our country, learn the language, get to know our culture and Orthodox tradition. In this way, Catholics could draw near the "other part" of the Church with which we "were one" for 1,000 years.

Q: Can the Greek Orthodox Church serve as example for the other Orthodox Churches of ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church?

Bishop Agathangelos: I think that every man of good will can discover the meaning of such dialogue and learn to dialogue. Collaboration between the Churches cannot be compared to relations between states. This collaboration has many aspects and one of these is the visits which make it possible to overcome prejudices. It is something that is very important, especially now, when we are beginning the new stage of dialogue between our Churches. I want to underline a fact: many Churches and patriarchates -- the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Alexandria, of Jerusalem, Church of Cyprus, of Albania -- collaborate with us and appoint Greek professors of theology for the ecumenical contacts.

Q: The Catholic Church is very concerned about the way certain things are going in the European Union, especially in the promotion of the new vision of man and the family, which contradicts Christian anthropology. Does the Orthodox Church share this concern?

Bishop Agathangelos: We have the same fears that you do. We see with sadness that Europe, especially Western Europe, is abandoning Christianity. Politicians do not recognize the identity of our continent which is the fruit of our history and cannot be denied. It is a grave problem therefore which we must address cooperating among ourselves.

Q: But how can one convince the politicians of the European Union to give up the policies that attack the family if certain Protestant churches recognize homosexual unions?

Bishop Agathangelos: That is why the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church is so important. Very many things unite us: common tradition, theology, apostolic succession, opinions on bioethics, human rights, peace in the world. For 1,000 years, we have lived together, for 1,000 consecutive years we were separated. In the course of history there were dramatic moments, we often felt wounded, but this does not mean that today we cannot live like brothers.

Q: In what way can our Churches oppose jointly the anti-Christian policies and the process of secularization of the Western world?

Bishop Agathangelos: I wish to make only one reflection. Our theological dialogue can give witness of Christ. Today people who are searching for the truth ask us: Why are you divided? How can we convince our faithful of the love of Christ if we are divided?

Q: You have already met with Benedict XVI.

Bishop Agathangelos: For me, it was very important to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and hear his words personally. After the visit, we left strengthened in spirit to work still more for the reunification of our Churches. These are our human plans. But if we have good intentions and open hearts, God will bless us: The history of the world and of the Church are in his hands.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Children of S Sudan await the dawn of a new nation...

Dhikr for the 3rd week of Advent (C)

Text: “And the crowds asked him (John the Baptizer), "What then should we do?" He said to them in reply, "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise." (Luke 3: 10-11)

Meditation: The preparation for the coming of the Lord is to accept the challenge to live a life of sharing and solidarity with those who have less in life…


O God of Compassion,
you promise a day of abundance,
when all people shall walk in your way.
Open our ears to your guidance and our
hearts to your teaching.
May we turn neither to the left nor to the right
but walk always in the path of salvation
and so finally reach your holy mountain
where Christ lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dhikr for the 2nd week of Advent (C)

Text: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3: 5-6)

Meditation: What are the “valley”, “hill”, “winding roads” and “rough ways” in our lives? We need to do something about them… to see the salvation of God!

Prayer for the 2nd week of Advent

O God whose will is justice for the poor and peace for the afflicted,

let your herald’s urgent voice pierce our hardened hearts

and announce the dawn of your kingdom.

Before the advent of the one who baptizes with the fire of the Holy Spirit,

let our complacency give way to conversion,

oppression to justice and conflict to acceptance of one another in Christ.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain,

whose day draws near; Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beating our swords into plowshares...

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD. (Isaiah 2: 2-5)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Advent Theme: The Song of Hannah 1Samuel 2: 1-2, 5, 7-9

ANITPHON Shadow me with your wings until all danger passes.

Extend to me, O God, Your love that never fails.

My heart exults in the Lord,

my strength is exalted in my God.

My mouth derides my enemies,

because I rejoice in my victory.

There is no Holy One like the Lord,

no one besides you;

there is no Rock like our God.

Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,

but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.

The barren has borne seven,

but she who has many children is forlorn.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;

God brings low but also exalts.

The Most High raises up the poor from the dust,

lifts the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes

and inherit a seat of honor.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s

and on them God has set the world.

The most High will guard the feet of the faithful ones,

but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;

for not by might does one prevail.

Waiting for the dawn to come...

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That we may have an EYE that sees...

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dhikr for the 1st week of Advent (C)

Text: "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise
like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. (Luke 21: 34-35)

Meditation: To have a longing heart and a vigilant spirit else we are caught by surprise like a trap…

PRAYER for the 1st week of Advent...

Above the clamor of our violence
your word of truth resounds,
O God of majesty and power.
Over nations enshrouded in despair, your justice dawns.
Grant your household a discerning spirit and a watchful eye
to perceive the hour in which we live.

Hasten the advent of that day
when the weapons of war shall be banished,
our deeds of darkness cast off,
and all your scattered children gathered into one.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near:
Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Torit, Southern Sudan: Listening to people's stories of persecution and trials, because of their belief and ethnicity... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Understanding Some Features of Militant Islamism...

The militant brands of "Islamism" (others refer to this as "Political Islam") cover a broad spectrum from A to Z. While these movements are diverse, there are discernable common features that identify them from the “old” or yet “older” schools and reform movements in the history of Islam. These are the following:

1. The BOOK (Qur'an) and the TRADITION (Hadith) provide the complete and perfect “blueprint” for socio political activism as well as a guide to public and private life.

2. The commitment to remake/refashion the world and community by strictly applying their beliefs with the use of violence.

3. Such endeavor/undertaking usually requires a charismatic and authoritarian leadership.

4. Boundaries are set… the enemy identified, converts are sought, institutions are created and the reconstruction of society becomes the MISSION.

5. Acute patriarchal structure… the leader is the all-powerful Father.

6. Hatred or Anger for the Power that dominates… that insludes among others,
Ø Sacred vs. Profane
Ø Religions vs. Secular
Ø Poor vs. the Rich
Ø Powerless vs. Power
Ø Oppressed vs. Oppressor

Matrix of this Religious Revivalism

There is a need to go into the matrix of this spectacular phenomenon to be able to appreciate both their significance as well as impact not only in the world but also on the relationship between and among our faith-communities.

Within the circle of these movements they believe that a new “dark ages” or Jahiliyya (age of “Ignorance”) has taken roots in the modern world. The world has been transformed into “al-nizam al-jahili (a decadent and ignorant order). Materialism and individualism have become the defining characteristics of our modern culture.

Moreover, the secularist leaders in the modern world have failed miserably to establish a legitimate, effective public order and to adequately address the profound socioeconomic disparities in wealth and class in most 3rd world countries, including the poor in the developed and industrialized ones.

The disillusionment with the secular and modern world coupled by the arrogance of power by the powerful nations have alienated not only the UMMAH (the Community of believers) but also the entire humanity from God.

(A portion of a Talk delivered by E. Mercado, OMI)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dhikr for the Feast of Christ the King (B)

Text: Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants (would) be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." (John 18: 38)

Meditation: In Jesus’ utter powerlessness… he proclaims that He is King… It is NOT a reign that the world usually sees and recognizes…

Visit: www.omigen.org/jpic

Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way) movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the heart… following three simple steps:

1. Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
2. Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips.
3. Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that interprets one’s life NOW…!

It takes a week of remembering (dhikr)…or even more days to relish the beauty of this method…

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Head Cover for Women in Islam...

Is Head Cover For Women Mandatory In Islam?
by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D

Hijab (head cover) for Muslim women is not mandated in the Qur’an. If it is, it is only the subjective interpretation of an ayah (verse) on the part of the reader. Hence, many Islamic scholars say that according to hadith, a woman should cover her whole body, except her face and hands. The majority of Muslims do not know in which hadith this is mentioned. A very limited number of Muslims know that this is in Sunan Abu Dawud. The English translation of Sunan Abu Dawud is in three volumes. Again, nobody ever mentions that it is in Volume Three. Actually, it is in Volume 3, Book XXVII, Chapter 1535, and Hadith number 4092, titled: "How Much Beauty Can A Woman Display?" For the benefit of the readers, the exact hadith is reproduced below:

(4092) 'Aisha said: Asthma', daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asthma', when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of the body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Note 3523)

Abu Dawud said: This is a mursal tradition (i.e. the narrator who transmitted it from 'Aisha is missing) Khalid B. Duraik did not see 'Aisha.

[3523. When a woman reaches the age of puberty, she must observe purdah and have a thick veil which conceals her beauty. She may unveil her face and hands up to the wrists. In modern times, some scholars have prohibited unveiling the face out of precaution.]

It is very interesting to note that no one - neither the Muslim scholars nor the Muslim ummah, ever pointed out that this is a mursal (weak) hadith. It is imperative that when one uses a weak hadith for any reason, then one should explain to the people that it is such. What is a mursal hadith? But first of all, what is hadith?

Hadith is an Arabic word which in its real sense means a tale, speech, chat, conversation, or communication. In a technical sense, hadith or tradition means all the sayings, deeds, decisions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w), his silent approval of the behavior of his companions, and descriptions of his personality. Each hadith is prefaced by a chain of narrators called al-'isnad. Al-'isnad was the chain of people through whom the hadith was transmitted. The second part of the hadith is al-matn, the content, which reports the teaching or the incident. Every hadith or tradition must have a chain ('isnad), as well as the text (matn).

There are three main categories of the hadith called (1) as-sahih or the authentic hadith, (2) al-hasan or the good, as some of its narrators have been found to have a weaker memory in comparison to the narrators of sahih hadith, and (3) ad-da'if or the weak. This refers to traditions in which there is some problem in the chain of transmission, in the proper understanding of the transmitter, or in its contents, which may be in disagreement with Islamic belief and practice.

Ad-da'if traditions are further divided according to the degree of problems with their reporter (ruwaat), or in the text (al-matn) of the reports. A few of these divisions are as follows:

1. Al-mursal: A hadith in which a tab'i (those who succeeded the sahabah or companions of the Prophet) transmits from Rasulullah (s.a.w), directly dropping the sahabi from the 'isnad.

2. Al-munqati: A hadith going back to the tab'i only.

3. Al-mu'dal: A hadith in which two continuous narrators are missing in one or more places in the 'isnad.

4. Al-mu'allaq: A hadith in which one or two transmitters are omitted in the beginning of the 'isnad.

In Shari'ah or Islamic law, only the authentic (sahih) and good (hasan) ahadith (plural of hadith) are used in deriving rules. The weak (da'if) ahadith have no value for the purpose of Shari'ah.

As stated above, Imam Abu Dawud himself said that this is a mursal tradition (i.e. the narrator who transmitted it from 'Aisha is missing). What I interpret is that the narrator of this hadith is Khalid B. Duraik, who did not see 'Aisha (radhi Allahu anha, may Allah be pleased with her). Since this is a weak hadith, it has no value for the purpose of Shari'ah. That means that no Muslim, Islamic Republic, or government can pass laws punishing a Muslim woman who does not observe hijab, particularly covering the hair on her head. This is not being practiced in the so-called Islamic countries, where religious police with their canes are threatening and punishing Muslim women who do not observe hijab.

All along, I have maintained in my arguments that Islam emphasizes modesty in the dress of a Muslim woman, but nowhere does it mandate the wearing of the hijab (head cover). As a matter of fact, modesty in dress is also required on the part of Muslim men.

Readers are invited to subscribe to the Aalim (Scholar), which is published quarterly by the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). Phone: 502-423-1988 or email IslamicResearch@yahoo.com

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dhikr for the 33rd week of the ordinary time (B)

Text: "Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.” (Mark 13: 28-29)

Meditation: Pray that we, too, may be able to discern God’s “coming” and “going” in our daily life…

Visit: www.omigen.org/jpic

Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way) movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the heart… following three simple steps:

1. Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
2. Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips.
3. Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that interprets one’s life NOW…!

It takes a week of remembering (dhikr)…or even more days to relish the beauty of this method…

Friday, November 10, 2006

The heart of the matter...

The heart of the Badaliyya movement… is loving solidarity with all believers…

“And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts (Acts 15: 8-9)

Many spiritual masters and directors claim that Spiritual Life is a matter of the heart. These are some of the famous phrases that point to this reality:
  • Being single-hearted…
  • A clean/purified heart...
  • The heart of the matter…
  • Religion of the heart…
  • God dwelling in the heart...

We invite our readers to add to the enumeration…

DR Congo in the post election wait..., the people look forward for a better future with hope... Simply to express our solidarity with the people of the DR Congo...! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

World Religions and Peace...

  • No Peace among the nations without Peace among the religions.
  • No Peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions.
  • No dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards.
  • No survival of our globe without a global ethic.
    (Hans Kung)

Friday, November 03, 2006


What is at the core of Interreligious Relations? My long years living in the Muslim communities have taught me that the real key or the path to any kind of true relationship with a Muslim neighbor is through the heart.

The HEART, in fact, is not only the key or path to each other… but it is also the way we encounter God. The Spanish Mystic ‘Ibn ‘Arabi gave us this legacy…

* God is extraordinarily closes and proximate to the human heart (e.g., at S 8:24, "He passes between the man and his heart"). What truly matters is God’s uniquely all-encompassing divine knowledge of "what is in their hearts" (S 4:66, 33:51, etc.).

* The divine awareness of what is in the heart extends in particular to people's innermost intentions (especially in contrast to their words and ostensible actions). In consequence, ‘Ibn “Arabi speaks of the heart (as more commonly of the soul, al-nafs) as the enduring "self" or ongoing seat of our moral and spiritual responsibility, as at S 2:225: "...He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned...."

* The most obvious in his work is the consistent stress on the divine "responsibility", indeed the ongoing divine Activity, expressed in all the different states of our hearts, including especially our recurrent failures to "remember" God.

* The enlightened or divinely supported heart (whether in this world or the next) is said to be the locus of true Remembrance of God (dhikr Allâh, at S13:28).

* We also see God's sealing, veiling, hardening, locking, binding, closing, or frightening hearts - to hearts that as a result (of their own misdeeds or the divine reaction) are "sick" or "blind" and "suffering."

* There are also references to hearts that "fail to understand" (lâ yafqahûn), far more frequently than those who do perceive the divine "Signs," whose hearts are 'âqilûn (attentive).

* Thus there is the need to move from these "negative" or perverse states of the human heart to full awareness of God and the corresponding divine Peace and understanding - "softening" and "humbling" or "purification" and "strengthening" of hearts, to the necessity of a "sound" or "repentant" or "mindful" heart (qalb salîm or munîb).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Worn out sandals and a stick symbols of our brokenness as we continue to journey together in our diverse paths to God... Posted by Picasa

Making sense of the reality of other faith traditions...

Many Christians have found it difficult to make sense of, or relate creatively to, the reality of other religious traditions. However, as Christians we believe that the Spirit of God is at work in ways beyond our understanding (cf. John 3. 8). The activity of the Spirit is beyond our definitions, descriptions and limitations. We should seek to discern the Spirit's presence where there is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Gal. 5. 22-23). The Spirit of God is groaning with our spirit. The Spirit is at work to bring about the redemption of the whole created order (Rom. 8. 18 - 27).

We are witnesses in a world where God has not been absent and to people who do have something to say about God. We meet people who already live by faiths that rule their lives and with which they are at home. We witness among them in a spirit and spirituality informed by our Christian faith. Christians need to open themselves to the witness of others, which is made not just in words but also in faithful deeds, in devotion to God, in selfless service and in commitment to love and non-violence.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rivers of Fire...

Rivers of fire which pass before the Presence like stream of water mingled with fire…

“A quality of holiness, a quality of power,
A quality of fearfulness, a quality of sublimity,
A quality of trembling, a quality of shaking,
A quality of terror, a quality of consternation,
Is the quality of the Garment of Zoharariel YHWH, God of Israel,
Who comes crowned to the Throne of god,
And of no creature are the eyes able to behold it,
Nor the eyes of flesh and blood, and not the eyes of his servants
And as for him who does behold it, or sees or glimpses it,
Whirling gyrations grip the balls of his eyes,
And the balls of his eyes – send forth torches of fire,
And these enkindle him and these burn him…”
(A Kabbalah Poem)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

'Id-ul-Mubarak! A Blessed feastday to all Muslims as they celebrate the end of Ramadhan. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

PCID Message for the end of Ramadan...

MESSAGE FOR THE END OF RAMADAN‘Id al-Fitr 1426 H. / 2006 A.D.

Dear Muslim friends,

1. I am happy to address this message to you for the first time as President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and to extend the Council’s warmest greetings as you celebrate the conclusion of the fast of Ramadan. I wish you peace, tranquillity and joy in your hearts, your homes and your countries. These good wishes echo those which His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI expressed personally at the beginning of Ramadan to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See from countries with Muslim majorities, to those from other countries that are members and observers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and to representatives of Muslim communities in Italy.

2. It is good to be able to share this significant moment with you in the context of our ongoing dialogue. The particular circumstances that we have recently experienced together demonstrate clearly that, however arduous the path of authentic dialogue may be at times, it is more necessary than ever.

3. The month of Ramadan which you have just completed has also undoubtedly been a time of prayer and reflection on the difficult situations of today’s world. While contemplating and thanking God for all that is good, it is impossible not to take note of the serious problems which affect our times: injustice, poverty, tensions and conflicts between countries as well as within them. Violence and terrorism are a particularly painful scourge. So many human lives destroyed, so many women widowed, so many children who have lost a parent, so many children orphaned … So many wounded, physically and spiritually… So much, which has taken years of sacrifice and toil to build, destroyed in a few minutes!

4. As Christian and Muslim believers, are we not the first to be called to offer our specific contribution to resolve this serious situation and these complex problems? Without doubt, the credibility of religions and also the credibility of our religious leaders and all believers is at stake. If we do not play our part as believers, many will question the usefulness of religion and the integrity of all men and women who bow down before God.
Our two religions give great importance to love, compassion and solidarity. In this context, I wish to share with you the message of the first Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), which echoes the most characteristic ‘definition’ of God in Christian Sacred Scriptures, “God is love” (1 Jn 4: 8). Genuine love for God is inseparable from love for others: “Anyone who says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother he can see cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4: 20). In recalling this point, the Encyclical underlines the importance of fraternal charity in the Church’s mission: love, to be credible, must be effective. It must come to the aid of everyone, beginning with the most needy. True love must be of service to all the needs of daily life; it must also seek just and peaceful solutions to the serious problems which afflict our world.

5. Believers who are engaged in helping people in need or seeking solutions to these problems, do so above all through their love for God, ‘for the face of God’. Psalm 27 (26) says: ‘I seek your face, O Lord, hide not your face from me …’(vv. 8b-9a). The month of fasting which you have just completed has not only brought you to give more attention to prayer, it has also rendered you more sensitive to the needs of others, above all to the hungry, fostering an even greater generosity towards those in distress.

6. Everyday worries together with the more serious problems faced by the world call for our attention and our action. Let us ask God in prayer to help us confront them with courage and determination. In those places where we can work together, let us not labour separately. The world has need, and so do we, of Christians and Muslims who respect and value each other and bear witness to their mutual love and co-operation to the glory of God and the good of all humanity.

7. With sentiments of sincere friendship I greet you and entrust to you my thoughts for your consideration. I beseech Almighty God that they will contribute to the promotion everywhere of the relations of greater understanding and co-operation that have arisen between Christians and Muslims, and thus offer a significant contribution to the re-establishment and strengthening of peace both within nations and between peoples, in accordance with the profound desires of all believers and all men and women of goodwill.

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata

Paul Cardinal Poupard

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Night of Power...

The 27th night of the month of Ramadhan is celebrated as the "Night of Power" - the night the Holy Qur'an is revealed.
As Muslims all over the world celebrate the "night of power" with light, I invite everyone to PRAY with our Muslim bothers & sisters on the night of power on the night of the 19th of October 2006.

Pray for peace and well being!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace dwell in your hearts & within your walls!
Because of my relatives and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you"!
Because of the house of the Lord, our God, I will pray for your good & prosperity.
(Inspired by Psalm 122)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Approaching Religious Plurality...

In their encounters with neighbours of other religious traditions, many Christians have come to experience the meaning of a "common humanity" before God. This experience is rooted in the biblical affirmation that God is the creator and sustainer of all creation. "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it" (Ps.24.1).

God called the people of Israel to be witnesses among the nations while, at the same time, affirming that God is the God of all nations (Ex.19: 5-6). The eschatological visions in the Bible anticipate all nations coming together and the creation being restored to the fullness that God intends for all. This conviction is reflected in the affirmation that God is not without witness among any people or at any time (Acts 14.17).

When relating to people of other faiths, Christians must be aware of the ambiguities of religious expressions. While religious traditions reflect wisdom, love, compassion, and saintly lives, they are not immune to folly, wickedness and sin. Religious traditions and institutions sometimes support, or function as, systems of oppression and exclusion. Any adequate assessment of religious traditions must deal with their failure to live in accordance with their highest ideals. Christians are particularly aware that history testifies that our own religious tradition has sometimes been used to distort the very meaning of the gospel we are called to proclaim.

As witnesses, we approach interreligious relations and dialogue in commitment to our faith. At the heart of Christian belief is faith in the triune God. We affirm that God, the Father, is creator and sustainer of all creation. We hold the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the centre of God's redeeming work for us and for the world. The Holy Spirit confirms us in this faith, renewing our lives and leading us into all truth.

We are convinced that we have been called to witness in the world to God's healing and reconciling work in Christ. We do this humbly acknowledging that we are not fully aware of the ways in which God's redeeming work will be brought to its completion. We now see only dimly, as in a mirror, for we now know only in part and do not have the full knowledge of what God has in store (cf. 1 Cor. 13.12-13). (Part 1 of the WCC Declaration on Interreligious Dialogue)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dhikr for the 28th week in ordinary time (B)...

Text: “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10: 17)

Meditation: We often ask what we must do to inherit eternal life… but like the young man in the gospel narrative, we, too, are NOT ready to embrace the radical imperative of the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Remembrance of God in good work...

Lesson 4: Dhikr as Remembrance of God in GOOD WORK

Remembrance of God is the foundation of good deeds. Dhikr is a form of Sadaqa (generous charity). Sadaqa is the generous sharing of one’s life and property.

Dhikr leads to being charitable in all the senses.
  • To become charitable and generous in our knowing and eeing…
  • To become charitable and generous in our hearing and in our utterances...
  • To becoming charitable and generous in our feeling and loving…
  • To becoming charitable and generous in our reaching out to our neighbors…

Sunday, October 08, 2006

St.Francis' Spirituality...

St. Francis of Assisi
(Feast: October 4th of each year)

Last October 4th, I wanted to post something in the Badaliyya web page on St. Francis. In the early postings, we have taken note that St. Francis occupies a special niche in the Muslim-Christian dialogue movement, particularly among the circles of Badals. No doubt, St. Francis remains a Badal (ransom) par excellence.

I am posting today, a reflection on the spirituality of St. Francis…

The core of St. Francis’ spirituality is “being passionately in love with God who is LOVE. His spiritual tradition is built on this principle of a love relationship between God and humanity and between God and the entire creation. God is the author of all creation, God is present in all God’s creations.

St. Francis, likewise, taught his disciples to praise God in all creatures by means of all creatures. Saint Francis wrote the Canticle of Brother Sun for his fellow brothers to recite daily. This simple, joyful poem entreats all to revere the whole creation as brother and sister, since God made them and find them to be good. It praises God for the beauty, virtue, and utility expressed in the creation of Nature.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Huwa - He/She... remembering his/her name. Posted by Picasa

Frequency of Dhikr (the Remembrance of God)...

Lesson 3: Frequency of Dhikr

Dhikr (the remembrance of God) is the life of the heart, that is, Dhikr is as necessary for the heart as water for the fish. Dhikr induces love for God. He/she who seeks access to the love of God should do dhikr profusely. Just as reading and repetition is the door of knowledge, so dhikr of God is the gateway to His love.

Dhikr involves muraqaba or meditation, through which one reaches the state of ihsan or well being, wherein a person worships God as if he/she is actually seeing Him. By virtue of dhikr, the person doing dhikr is blessed, as also the person near to him.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Spending the month of Ramadhan in prayer and Qur'anic Reading... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ramadhan Khutba...

Ramadhan Khutba (exhortation)

“Oh people! The Month of Allah the High has come with blessings, mercy and forgiveness. To Allah, this month is the best month. Its days are the best days. Its nights are the best of all nights. Its hours are the best of all hours. And this is the month which you have been invited to be the guests of Allah and you have become the graced ones by Allah.
Your souls in it [month of Ramadhan] are glorification [of Allah]. Your sleep in it is worship. Your deeds in it are accepted. Your prayers in it are answered.
So ask your Lord with truthful intentions and pure hearts that He would grant you success in fasting and reading His book.

For that the unfortunate is the one who forbids Allah's forgiveness in this great month. With your hunger and thirst remember the hunger and thirst of the Day of Judgment. Give to your poor and needy. Respect the elder. Have mercy on the younger. Be nice and keep in touch with your relatives. Protect your tongues.

Cast down from what is not Halal (licit) for your sights to see and what is not halal for your ears to hear. Be compassionate and caring for the orphans of other people, so that your orphans would be taken care of and receive compassion.

Repent from your sins. Raise your hands towards Him in dua (prayer of invocation) during the hours of prayers, those hours are the best hours and Allah-azza wa jall- looks at His servants with mercy; answers them if they ask for help; answers their call if they call upon Him; answers their dua if they ask Him.

Oh people! Your souls are hostages by your deeds. So let yourselves free by asking Allah's forgiveness. Your backs are heavy with loads, so make it light by prolonging your sajdas (prostration in prayer). And know that Allah-jalla zikruh- has vowed to His Dignity that He would not punish those who pray and those who make Sajda. And He would not worry them with Fire on the day which people rise to the Lord of the Universe.

Oh people! Whoever feeds a fasting believer during this month, to Allah, it is as if he has freed a slave. And his past sins are forgiven. Then he, peace be upon him and his family, continued: ".....whoever does one 'fareedha' (a religious deed) during this month it is as if he has accomplished doing 70 good deeds in other months. Whoever increases sending blessings on me, Allah will make his rewards heavy on the day which people's rewards are light. Whoever recites one ayat (verse) of Qur'an, will receive the reward of finishing the whole Qur'an in other months.

Oh people! The door of Heaven in this month is open, so ask your lord not to close it on you. The doors of Hell are closed, so ask your Lord not to open it for you. The devils are in chains, so ask your Lord that they do not rule you." (A summary of a khutba by Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - on the Holy Month of Ramadhan: (A summary of a khutba by Prophet Muhammad on the Holy Month of Ramadhan got online)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ramadhan is a season of prayer... The small boy respectfully watches his folks pray... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Badaliyya Prayer Session...

During my stay in Cairo in the early 80’s, my Dominican mentors, Frs. George Anawati and Jacques Jomier, invited me to join the Badaliyya prayer session. It was my first introduction to the group. I heard a lot about it through the professors during my studies at the Pontifical Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies in Rome.

The Badaliyya prayer begins in silence. Then the Blessed Sacrament is exposed; and adoration follows. The silent adoration is devoted to “standing before God” as an “offering” for and in behalf of our Muslim brothers and sisters.

It is during the prayer of adoration that one strives to become the “ransom” or a “substitution” for whatever is lacking or inadequate in Islam.

In some Badaliyya circles the prayer of adoration is followed by intercessory prayers that includes, among others, a plea for peaceful resolution to the crises in the Middle East and for conversion of hearts of all those whose hatred leads them to violent actions.

This is followed by a concluding prayer that asks for the courage to forgive the offenses and the wrong inflicted on each one by offering one’s self as a “ransom”/”substitution” in the place of those to be reconciled to a benevolent God. The prayer closes the Lord's Prayer.After about an hour of adoration, a light snack follows – a sort of a light passage to the second part of the monthly session.

The second part is devoted to sharing of significant events that affect Muslim and Christian relations. I remember the discussion on Mother Theresa’s visit to Cairo. It was the time that Egypt was being rocked by religious violence… the months prior to the assassination of Pres. Anwar Sadat.

The discussion ends always with a positive note and a short prayer… until the next session.

It is a monthly prayer session that is usually done on any Friday of Thursday evening… preferably the first Friday of the month. (Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pope Says Dialogue with Islam Vital for Future...

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with Muslim leaders of Italy and diplomats from 21 Islamic countries and stressed that the dialogue between Christians and Muslims is decisive for the future of humanity.The Pope said he called today's meeting to "strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world," in the wake of controversy over his Sept. 12 address at the University of Regensburg in Germany.

The Arab-language broadcaster Al-Jazeera carried the papal speech live."In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers," said the Holy Father.He recalled the Second Vatican Council declaration "Nostra Aetate," which expresses officially the Church's "appreciation" for Muslims who "worship the one God."Benedict XVI's address, delivered in French, was also distributed among the diplomats in an Arabic translation, in addition to the English and Italian versions.The Pope did not address the issue of the interpretations of his address at Regensburg.

On two occasions last week he clarified his quotation from the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus as a means to present the problem of the relationship between religion and violence. The quotation sparked violence and drew criticism from some Muslims.To dispel doubts, the Holy Father said that "I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians."Not an option"Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends," Benedict XVI said.

Thus he confirmed what he explained on Aug. 20, 2005, in Cologne, Germany, when meeting with representatives of Muslim communities.He continued: "In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together."Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue.

"This dialogue, Benedict XVI added, must be "based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will."

Faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction."

Among the common challenges faced by Muslims and Christians, the Holy Father mentioned "the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity."He added: "When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ramadhan Observance...

Ramadhan is the 9th lunar month of the Islamic calendar. The celebration of Ramadhan is characterized by fasting (Sawm) from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. Because, the fasting aspect, many think that this month can be compared to the Christian season of Lent.

The theology behind the Islamic fasting during the month of Ramadhan is not akin to the penance and fasting of the Christian Lent. If comparison would be made, the closer “spirit” is the penance and fasting of Advent that is characterized by the joyful expectation for Christmas of the birth of Jesus the Lord.

The month of Ramadhan is annually celebrated by fasting, penance and feasting to commemorate the coming down of the Qur’an – the Word of God. Every Muslim upon reaching the “age of reason”, unless sick or unable to fast, must observe the obligation of fasting prescribed by the Qur’an and the Shari’a.

For the year 2006, through scientific reckoning (not through the traditional actual sighting of the new moon), Ramadhan begins on the evening of the 23rd of September and ends on the evening of the 22nd of October. Believers, until now, reckon the beginning and end of the Ramadhan on the basis of actual sighting of the new moon.

Everyday at sundown, the Muslims celebrate the “breaking of the fast”. In many Islamic countries, the rich people erect tents where food and refreshments overflow for the whole month of Ramadhan for people to break the fast together. All, especially the poor are invited to partake of the daily feast.

The highlight of fasting would come about during the celebration of the “night of power”. This is the “most holy night where the Qur’an is revealed. The Word of God becomes the Qur’an. The Night of Power (Lailat ul-Qadr), is generally taken to be the 27th night of the month. The Qur’an states that this night is better than a thousand months. Therefore many Muslims (Submitters) spend the entire night in prayer.

In many spiritual circles, one recognizes this particular night when Muslims “light” candles or torches are lighted in their homes and yards and people spend the whole night in the recitation of the Qur’an until the banquet before the rising of the sun.

The sighting of the new moon marks the end of Ramadhan. This is the Feast of ‘Idul Fitr” (Breaking the Fast). Every one has to break the fast; and they prepare themselves to “parade” towards the publicly designated public prayer. In many places, the people go by groups from all direction towards the stadium while continuously proclaiming the “takhbir” (Allahu Akbar). In Islamic cities, the takhbir creates a sound akin to “thunder”!

For the whole moth of Ramadhan, I invite every believer to journey in prayer and solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters as they devotedly observe the sacred duty of fasting. (By Eliseo Mercado, OMI)

Qur’anic verses on Ramadhan fasting…

O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation. [2:183]

Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew. [2:184]

Ramadan is the month during which the Qur’an was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. God wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify God for guiding you, and to express your appreciation. [2:185]

When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided. [2:186]

Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets. God knew that you used to betray your souls, and He has redeemed you, and has pardoned you. Henceforth, you may have intercourse with them, seeking what God has permitted for you. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset. Sexual intercourse is prohibited if you decide to retreat to the Masjid (during the last ten days of Ramadan). These are God’s laws; you shall not transgress them. God thus clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may attain salvation. [2:187]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Badaliyya Tradition...

The Badaliyya Tradition…
By Dorothy C. Buck

In 1934 a renowned French Catholic Islamic scholar and an Egyptian Christian woman also prayed together before the altar of a Franciscan Church in Damietta, Egypt. In a passionate plea to the God of Abraham, father of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, they made a vow to dedicate their lives to pray for the Muslim people, to stand before God for them.

As a young man, Louis Massignon had lost interest in his Christian heritage. After an unusual conversion experience while on an archeological mission in Baghdad he became a devout Roman Catholic believer. Through years of research in the Arab world he came to
love his Muslim friends and colleagues.

Mary Kahil was a Melkite Christian who grew up in Cairo, Egypt where she became active in the Muslim women's political and social causes.

Louis discovered the roots of his spirituality and his faith life in his belief that to be a follower of Christ we must substitute our own lives for the salvation of others as Jesus did.

Thus the vow that Louis and Mary made in Damietta on February 9th, 1934 was grounded in a deep conviction of the heart, a call to what Louis named the Badaliyya, an Arabic word meaning substitution.

In 1947 Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil received official approval from Rome for the statutes of the Badaliyya. They attracted many members in Cairo as well as those joining in solidarity with them, like Cardinal Montini, the future Pope Paul Vl, and many others in monasteries and church communities around the world.

In the statutes they agreed to pray for the Muslims, to treat them with respect, affection and kindness, and to personally live the gospel message of love in their daily lives. Like Mary they devoted themselves to the Muslim community by volunteering in organizations where they could live out the spirit intended by the Badaliyya.

They met once a week for an hour. Guided by his relationship with Charles de Foucauld, Massignon invited them to begin their gatherings with a prayer in solitude before the altar called adoration. Then they read the spiritual writings of Foucauld or others, and ended by praying together.

Louis Massignon's understanding of what he called mystical substitution traced back to earlier church traditions. The many saints who were often martyrs for their faith were said to unite their sufferings and death with the passion and death of Christ. In the medieval church some extraordinary mystics felt called to pray to take onto themselves the physical and emotional afflictions of those who came to them for healing.

These examples seem far from our contemporary experience of faith and appear exaggerated and foreign. Yet, Louis Massignon's vision of such immense love of
God, even at the expense of one's own life or health, evolved into a profound and intense spirituality of compassion for others.

In a letter written on January 16, 1955 to Mary Kahil he described the spirit of the
Badaliyya: (All Massignon references are from L'Hospitalité Sacrée, Ed. Jacques Keryell, 1987. Author's translation.)

"...They say that the Badaliyya is an illusion because we cannot put ourselves in the place of another, and that it is a lover's dream. It is necessary to respond that this is not a dream but rather a suffering that one receives without choosing it, and through which we conceive grace. It is the visitation [by the spirit of God], hidden in the depth of the anguish of compassion, which seizes us as an entrance into the reign of God. It certainly appears powerless, yet it requires everything, and the One on the cross who shares it with us transfigures it on the last day. It is suffering the pains of humanity together with those who have no other pitiful companion than us."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Benedict XVI Apologizes for Muslim Offense

Benedict XVI Apologizes for Muslim OffenseMakes Invitation to Dialogue CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI said that he is "deeply sorry" for the harsh reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, and invited Muslims to open and honest dialogue.In the Pope's first public address since his trip to Bavaria, he said today: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.""These in fact were a quotation from a Medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought," the Holy Father said from the balcony of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo to the crowds gathered in the rain to pray the Angelus.

In his address on Tuesday in Regensburg, the Bishop of Rome quoted a dialogue on Christianity and Islam between Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Persian, which took place in Ankara around 1391.The Pontiff quoted what the emperor said regarding the question of the jihad (Holy War): "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."ClarificationToday Benedict XVI pointed to the statement released Saturday by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone "in which he explained the true meaning of my words."

"I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect," the Pope said.In his statement, Cardinal Bertone explained that "the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way.

"He simply used it as a means to undertake -- in an academic context, and as evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text -- certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come."The Arab television channel Al-Jazeera transmitted live the Pope's words during the Angelus.

7 Aspects of Remembering God...

Tradition has it from some of the “Knowers” of God that dhikr (remembrance of God) has seven aspects:

· dhikr of the eyes, which consists in seeing & weeping (buka');
· dhikr of the ears, which consists in listening (isgha');
· dhikr of the tongue, which consists in praise (thana');
· dhikr of the hands, which consists in sharing & giving (`ata');
· dhikr of the body, which consists in work & fidelity (wafa');
· dhikr of the heart, which consists in love and hope (kawf wa raja');
· dhikr of the spirit, which consists of utter submission and acceptance (taslim wa rida')."


O my Lord!
Make me abundantly thankful to You (shakkaran laka),
abundantly mindful of You (dhakkaran laka),
abundantly devoted to You (rahhaban laka),
perfectly obedient to You (mitwa`an ilayka),
lowly and humble before You (mukhbitan laka),
always crying out and turning back to You (awwahan muniban)!...."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shayk - A Spiritual Mentor on our journey to God! Posted by Picasa

Dhikr Lesson 1: Remembrance of God

In the tradition of the “tariqa (t)” (path), Dhikr is a revered practice during the day. It is the remembrance of God with the tongue according to one of the formulas taught by the Shayk (guide). In time, through meditation, Dhikr becomes a remembrance of God, too, in the heart and in good works.

The first stage of the practice of the Dhikr reminds us of the Quranic verse that says” "The believers are those who, when they hear the names of Allah mentioned, their hearts tremble" (al-Anfal).”

The meaning of remembrance through the heart, as in the verse: "The men and women who remember God abundantly" (S. 33:35). The constant remembrance of God is the meaning of being single-hearted.

Dhikr is both inner remembrance and outward mention, as in the verse "Remember Me and I shall remember you" (S 2:152). This is read in the light of the hadith qudsi (Traditioni, "Those that remember me in their heart, I remember them in my heart; and those that remember Me in a gathering (i.e. that make mention of me), I remember them (i.e. make mention of them) in a gathering better than theirs." (Bapa Elisha “Jun” Mercado, OMI)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beware of Idols that we worship... they come in many shapes and forms! Posted by Picasa

Are we making idols out of our rules and ways...?

Dhikr for the 22nd week of the ordinary year (B)

Text: “He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.' You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." (Mark 7: 6-8))

Meditation: How easily do we make idols of our rules and ways…? They are NOT God’s…!


Monday, August 28, 2006

Prophets for our time... Are we listening?

Prophets for Our Tme: Are We Listening?
by Dorothy C.Buck

When I think of Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Muhammad, the ancient Hebrew prophets, Abraham, Elijah, Moses then John the Baptist and Jesus, in fact the religious reformers and visionaries of all cultures and traditions in every age, one word overshadows all else. They knew how to listen, first to God, then to the voices of others in the world around them.

As Christians we talk of God “calling” us into relationship, of the prophets being “called” to speak publicly for God, to challenge and confront the ways that God's voice was not being heard.

In the Gospel according to Matthew John the Baptist is heard quoting the major Hebrew prophet Isaiah, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! ...A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” (Matthew 3:2, Isaiah 40:3)

Unless we listen to the prophets among us we are likely to wander farther and farther away from the kingdom of God's love into a maze of tempting cultural values and materialistic idols. We hear competing voices inundating our TV programs enticing us with more and more “things” we must have and that we are told will make us “happy”. Even cigarettes and an SUV are claimed to fulfill our longings for love and companionship, and more and more credit debt is the capitalistic means of achieving the successful consumer lifestyle that feeds our economy, but not our souls.

We have ample voices throughout our short history as a country who has warned us of the dangers of not heeding the call of the poor, of not feeding the hungry, offering a drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and welcoming the strangers in our midst. Now we are challenged, almost beyond our capacity to respond, by the fear of terrorist attacks and the distrust and hatred felt towards this country in many parts of the world. Are we listening?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mystical Substitution - Badaliyya...

Louis Massignon's understanding of what he called mystical substitution traced back to earlier church traditions. The many saints who were often martyrs for their faith were said to unite their sufferings and death with the passion and death of Christ.

In the medieval church some extraordinary mystics felt called to pray to take onto themselves the physical and emotional afflictions of those who came to them for healing. These examples seem far from our contemporary experience of faith and appear exaggerated and foreign. Yet, Louis Massignon's vision of such immense love of God, even at the expense of one's own life or health, evolved into a profound and intense spirituality of compassion for others.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Being alive and becoming living bread for others...

Dhikr for the 20th week of the ordinary year (B)

Text: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (John 6: 51)

Meditation: By partaking of the bread of Christ… do we become truly ALIVE and living bread for others…?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Charles de Foucauld - a Brother to all...

Fr. de Foucauld understood his mission as the "universal brother". This marked his life and witness from his arrival and his settling in Beni-Abbes in 1901. His foundation was called the khaoua" (the fraternity), because khaouia Charles is the "universal brother".

He always prayed that I may truly be the brother of all. And all the groups that have taken their origin from him have always been firmly determined to reach every corner of the world, desiring, like their mentor, to follow Christ who commanded his disciples "to go ... and make disciples of all nations".

Thus heirs to de Foucauld's tradition desire to become universal brothers/sisters like him. Wherever he/she may be, they witness to the universality of the love of Christ's Heart, so that it may be recognized in such a way that all can accept his Word and his Gospel.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A spiritual life centered on the Eucharist...

Charles de Foucauld wrote a text called the Directory for the use of all, priests and lay people alike, gathered under the title of the Union of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

A personal return to the Gospel and a spiritual life centered on the Eucharist are asked of them, as well as a commitment to proclaim the Gospel in the way Jesus of Nazareth did: to live the Gospel wherever they might be. But de Foucauld hoped that Christians would live this spirituality where the Gospel was unknown.

From the heart of the Sahara he wrote: "Here there is a need for good people, good Christians of every profession, who would come into close contact with the indigenous people through a thousand daily activities".

Taught by God...

Dhikr for the 19th week of the ordinary year (B)

Text: “It is written in the prophets: 'They shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.” (John 6: 45)

Meditation: Do we truly allow ourselves to be taught by God…? Do we listen to God and learn from the Lord in our work and life…?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rosa Parks - A Woman of Faith! Posted by Picasa

Take Courage...

Text: "Jesus spoke to them, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water'." (Mt. 14: 27-28)

Reflection: Hold on our belief that Jesus is with us...! As the song (Foot prints in the Sand) goes, when we see only one pair of foot prints in most difficult times... they are not ours... they are the Lord's... It is during those times that he carries us in his arms.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dhikr for the 18th week of the ordinary time (B)

Dhikr for the 18th week of the ordinary year (B)

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” (John 6: 27)

Do we toil for the food that endures… What is God’s seal on our work and life…?

Today, we remember the Nuclear Holocaust in Hiroshima... and on the 9th of August a second Atomic Bomb was dropped in Nagasaki. We pause in prayer not only to remember the dead and the victims... but also to manifest our resolve that NEVER again we shall allow such tragedies to visit the earth.


Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way) movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the heart… following three simple steps:

1. Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
2. Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips.
3. Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that interprets one’s life NOW…!

It takes a week of remembering (dhikr)…or even more days to relish the beauty of this method…

Friday, August 04, 2006

Taking offense at God...

“And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.’ And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” (Matthew 13: 57-58)

Beware of taking offense at God and his/her prophets…!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shining like the sun...

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 13: 43)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Appeal for Peace in the Middle East...

"In this moment I cannot help think of the situation, ever more grave and more tragic, that the Middle East is going through: hundreds of dead, many wounded, a huge number of the homeless and refugees; houses, towns and infrastructure destroyed; meanwhile, hatred and the desire for revenge grow in the hearts of many.

These facts demonstrate clearly that you cannot re-establish justice, establish a new order and build authentic peace when you resort to instruments of violence. More than ever we see how prophetic and altogether realistic is the voice of the Church when, in the face of wars and conflicts of every kind, it points out the path of truth, justice, love and liberty (cf. encyclical "Pacem in Terris"). Humanity must also cross this path today to achieve the good desire for true peace.

In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their weapons on all sides! I ask governing leaders and international organizations not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary halt to hostilities and so to be able to begin to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable concord for all the people of the Middle East.

I appeal to all people of good to continue and to intensify the shipment of humanitarian help to those populations so tested and needy. But especially [I ask that] every heart continue to raise the hopeful prayer to the good and merciful God, so that he grants his peace to that region and to the whole world.

We entrust this sorrowful petition to the intercession of May, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, so venerated in Mideast countries, where we hope to see soon reign this reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus has offered his precious Blood."

(Benedict XVI, Angelus Appeal: 30 July 2006)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What are the SIGNS people see in our life and work...?

Dhikr for the 17th week of the ordinary year (B)

“A large crowd followed Jesus, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.” (John 6: 2)

Do people, likewise, see the signs we are performing in the name of Jesus… on the poor, the migrants and the excluded in the way we live and minister…?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Our search for the "numinous" in creation... lies in finding the path to the heart! Posted by Picasa

"Listening Heart"...

The “listening heart in the writings of Shayk ‘Ibn 'Arabî as he tried to unravel the meaning of the Qur’an.

The Qur'an repeatedly emphasizes God's extraordinary closeness and proximity to the human heart (e.g., at 8:24, "He passes between the man and his heart"), as well as the uniquely all-encompassing divine knowledge of "what is in their hearts" (4:66, 33:51, etc.).

That divine awareness of what is in the heart extends in particular to people's innermost intentions (especially in contrast to their words and ostensible actions). From the Qur'anic perspective a spiritually crucial dimension of the human heart is the integral involvement - together with God - of our own "will" and intimate intentions, which are portrayed as somehow inseparable from the degree and nature of our awareness of the divine. In consequence, the Qur'an can even speak of the heart (as more commonly of the soul, al-nafs) as the enduring "self" or ongoing seat of our moral and spiritual responsibility, as at 2:225: "...He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned...."

Perhaps most obvious of all in the Qur'an is the consistent stress on the divine "responsibility", indeed the ongoing divine Activity, expressed in all the different states of our hearts, including especially our recurrent failures to "remember" God. In this respect, as those familiar with the Qur'an will recognize, the larger metaphysical "paradox" with which we began this discussion is certainly not, to begin with, Ibn 'Arabî's own invention: almost half of the Qur'anic references to the heart directly mention God's responsibility for its states, often without any explicit reference to the shared role of the human "actor."

In several famous Qur'anic passages, repeated throughout Sufi literature and in popular piety, the enlightened or divinely supported heart (whether in this world or the next) is said to be the locus of true Remembrance of God (dhikr Allâh, at 13:28) and the grace of divinely bestowed Peace and Tranquillity, as well as the receptacle for the sending down of the Spirit and Gabriel and other special acts of divine support. But the Qur'anic references to these special states of enlightened hearts are limited to what in context usually seems like a very small and elect group: Muhammad and other divine prophets, certain of their disciples or saints, or some of the blessed in the Gardens of Paradise...

With far greater frequency, the Qur'an refers instead to God's sealing, veiling, hardening, locking, binding, closing, or frightening hearts - to hearts that as a result (of their own misdeeds or the divine reaction) are "sick" or "blind" and "suffering." Typical of this disproportionate emphasis are the many references to hearts that "fail to understand" (lâ yafqahûn), far more frequently than those who do perceive the divine "Signs," whose hearts are 'âqilûn. In the Qur'an, therefore, the starkly contrasting dimensions and potentialities of the human heart with which we began are, if anything, even more predominant and vividly drawn. The Qur'anic account of the heart and its situation is repeatedly cast in an intensely dramatic and unavoidably existential form. That intrinsic inner drama is certainly presupposed in each of Ibn 'Arabî's own discussions of the heart, whatever the particular language or context of each discussion.

Against that sharply drawn dramatic backdrop, the Qu'ranic verses that indicate the actual ways or conditions for us to move from these "negative" or perverse states of the human heart to full awareness of God and the corresponding divine Peace and understanding are relatively few, but certainly all the more worth noting: these practically decisive verses include references to the "softening" and "humbling" or "purification" and "strengthening" of hearts, to the necessity of a "sound" or "repentant" or "mindful" heart (qalb salîm or munîb), and so on.

(Editor’s note: The short presentation is based on the 28 – page article by James Morris on Ibn ‘Arabi)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Compassion and Mercy...

The text is taken from Qur’an 57: 27 that states… “…we sent after them Jesus the Son of Mary and bestowed on him the Gospel; and we ordained on the hearts of those who followed him COMPASSION AND MERCY. (waja’aalnaa fi qulusbi-lladhina-ttaba’uhu raa’fatan wa –rahmatan).

The two key descriptions of Jesus’ followers are Compassion and Mercy… Is this NOT the very heart of religion and the very heart of God…? God is Rahmaan and Rahim (“loving-kindness”). This is the very heart of religion and a believer as described in Sura 50:37… A believer who remembers the need for a feeling heart, a hearing mind and a present self… to his/her neighbor… (“…inna fi dhalika la-dhikra li-man kana lahu qalb aw alqa al-sam’wa wa huwa shahid”)

Reflecting on this passage, I wander whether the call for us is, precisely, to retrieve these key description and allow it to bear upon the relationship between the worship that we bring and the behavior that we come by… or putting it in another way, allowing the “coincidence” between the heart of God and the heart of the believer. (Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI)

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus – A common Muslim-Christian Heritage

1. The Importance of the Site in Ephesus

The name Ephesus evokes the ancient Greek city in Asia Minor where the cult of Artemis (Diane), which preceded Christianity, manifested itself by a temple classed among the seven marvels of the world. But it is also inseparable from Saint Paul who preached on the agora in the year 57 of the Christian era, or from Saint John, who lived there (where the Basilica containing his tomb has been found ), and of the third Ecumenical Council when the Mother of Christ was proclaimed Theotokos (Mother of God) in 431 of the Christian era.

Placed under the protection of Saint John, the Virgin would have accompanied him to Ephesus during his apostolate. It is likely that he settled her outside the ancient city on a neighboring hill where it is believed that her house was discovered. It is known today by the name Panaya Kapulu (that is to say, the "Port of All Saints").

2. The Origins of the Devotion to the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

The devotion dates back to the middle of the 5th century. Seven young people from Ephesus were buried alive in a cave for having refused to deny their faith in God during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Décius; they woke up after a long sleep of several hundred years and died several hours later after having testified to their experience.

They were seen collectively by the inhabitants who decided afterwards to build a sanctuary dedicated to them. The historian, Honigmann, established that this tradition was common to Melkite, Nestorian, and Jacobite Christians, and therefore precedes their division (5th and 6th centuries). As for the liturgical names of the seven saints, they were already reported in 530 by a Latin pilgrim from North Africa, Theodosis, in a Jacobite list in Nubia. In its liturgical calendar the Eastern Church celebrates the Seven Sleepers twice: October 22nd (Common of prayers to the Martyrs), and August 4th (the traditional feast day), while the Latin Occident celebrates them on July 27th.

But, what is more remarkable, the example of these martyrs for the faith is venerated beyond the limits of Christianity. In fact, Sura XVIII of the Qur'an read every Friday in the Mosques (and thus preceding the death of Muhammed in 632) is entitled al-Kahf, that is to say, the Cave. This Sura exalts the abandonment to God of these seven young Ephesians buried alive, describing their witness to fidelity in the face of an impious demand, then their ‘dormition' which it states was 309 years. Sura XVIII could be considered as the Apocalypse of Islam; not only does it magnify the attitude of the seven martyrs for their faith by their anticipated resurrection, but it also presents the announcement of the Last Judgement.

Muslims make exception for the Seven Sleepers and tolerate the building of sanctuaries to these martyrs because their temporary resurrection made them precursory witnesses of the Last Judgement, saints of the End Time. Shustari, one of the most interesting commentators on the Qur'an, said that, "All Saints lose their normal sleep and enter into the sleep of the Seven Sleepers". (Geneviève Massignon Ph. D)