Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Strengthening Badaliyya in Cotabato



We are learning many more details about the evolution of the original Badaliyya from these translations. The Convocations were written to invite the members to join in a personal day of fast on the first Fridays of each month and the hour-long Badaliyya gathering for prayer. They agreed to topics for common prayer with the fast that included praying for the successful outcome of interreligious dialogue. In each letter there is a plea to pray for peace and non-violent reconciliation for the many areas of the world, especially in the Southern Philippines, the Middle East and the Holy Land where tensions and civil wars were raging at the time.

We also learned that the patroness of the original Badaliyya was Our Lady of Pokrov whose feast is celebrated in the Byzantine calendar on October 1st. This is an image of Our Lady as intercessor who spreads her veil ("pokrov" in Russian) as a sign of protection.

By way of sharing, we cite the following prayer to the Virgin written for the "Feast of the Portiuncula" in the Franciscan calendar which falls on August 2nd. This was the chapel restored by St. Francis in which he formed his first group of Friars Minor, where St. Clare took the habit, and where the friars gathered annually for their chapter meetings. It became the center of the Franciscan community.

O Virgin of the Angels, who has for centuries
established your throne of mercy at the
Portiuncula, hear the prayer of your children,
who trust in you.

From this truly holy place and
the habitation of the Lord, so dear to the heart
of Saint Francis, you have always invited all men
to love.

Your tender eyes assure us of a never failing
motherly help and a promise of divine help to
all those who humbly have recourse to your throne,
or who from afar, turn to you to ask for help.

You are, indeed, our sweet Queen and our only hope.
O Lady of the Angels, obtain for us, through
the intercession of Blessed Francis, pardon for
our sins, help us to keep away from sin and
indifference, so that we shall be worthy of cal-
ling you our Mother for evermore.

Bless our homes, our toil and our rest, by
giving us that same serenity we experience
within the walls of the Portiuncula, where hate,
guilt and tears turn into a song of joy like that
once was sung by the Angels and the Seraphic Francis.

Help those who are in need and hungry,
those who are in danger of body and soul,
those who are sad and downhearted, those
who are sick and dying.

Bless us, your most beloved children, and, we
pray you, bless also with the same motherly
gesture, all those who are innocent, together
with those are guilty; those who are faithful,
together with those who have gone astray;
those who believe, together with those who are
in doubt.

Bless all humanity, so that all men and women
acknowledging that they are God's children,
would find through love, real Peace and real Good.

Those who are joining the First Friday prayer for peace may also want to make it a day of fast as a sacrificial offering in keeping with Massignon's deep belief in the efficacy of fasting and prayer as a powerful tool for change in the world.

Please join us in spirit as we pray for an end to violence in Southern Philippines, the Middle East and the Holy Land.

Peace to everyone.
Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI

January 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Our Lady of Pokrov

Our Lady of Pokrov

Our Lady of Pokrov, known as the Theotokos, is the patron saint of our Badaliyya, as she was for the original prayer group in Cairo. The feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos falls in the Byzantine Calendar on October 1st. It honors the appearance of the Virgin during an all night vigil in Blachernae Church in Constantinople on October 1st, in the year 911 where she was seen to be spreading her veil in protection of the world. Louis Massignon encouraged the addition of this feast in his adopted Greek Catholic (Melkite) Rite. He also mentions Mariam Baouardy, a Palestinian Arab Carmelite who died in 1878 and was beatified in 1983.

We honor the saints who were so essential to Massignon's own spiritual growth. Our Lady of Pokrov, October 1st, Saint Francis on October 4th, and St. Therese of Lisieux on October 2nd who was made a Doctor of the Church October 19th, 1997. In keeping with Massignon's spirit we call on these Holy men and women as we pray for peace and non-violent reconciliation in the Holy Land, the Middle East and throughout the world.

Please join us in spirit as we pray for an end to violence in Southern Philippines the Middle East and the Holy Land.

Peace to you.
Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI

January 25, 2014
The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Missionary Presence in Sulu and Tawi Tawi - Martyrdom of Fr. Rey

Missionary Presence in Sulu and Tawi Tawi - Fr. Rey's Martyrdom

Linguistically speaking, presence is a noun, not a verb. It connotes a state of being, not doing. States of being are not highly valued in a culture which places a high priority on doing. Yet, true presence or ‘being with’ another person carries with it a silent power, that is, to bear witness to a passage, to help carry an emotional burden or to begin a healing process. In it, there is an intimate connection with another that is perhaps too seldom felt in a society that strives for ever-faster ‘connectivity’.

 To the three OMI martyrs of the Vicariate of Jolo, it was not their ‘doing’ that had, in a sense, precipitated their murders in the hands of the lawless elements of the Provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It was their ‘being with’ their people and communities that had become a powerful witnessing beyond words and actions.  Bishop Ben in the whole Vicariate of Jolo, Fr. Benjie in the islands of Mapun and Jolo and Fr. Rey in Tabawan journeyed with their people with endearing smile, innocence and passionate love.  Often these values were clearly revealed in their testimony of fidelity to their religious call that is often translated in simply “just go, just be there and just live with your people”.

I speak of a particular journey of ‘being with’ as exemplified by Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI of Tabawan.  Fr. Rey, during his formative years, already thought of becoming a missionary in the Muslim countries of Asia.  This wish was realized at the last lap of his life passing through the circuitous road of ministry to the oppressed and the marginalized in the Diocese of Kidapawan in North Cotabato and formation work in Thailand.

When his wish came true, it was not in Malaysia or some islands in Indonesia, but in the Archipelago of Tawi-Tawi in the southernmost part of the Philippines. It began in the island of Batu-Batu and would end in the island of Tabawan. It was a presence among the poor Sama people.  Often, it was a powerless presence with his community for whom he could “do” nothing.
He walked, sat and ate with friends. There were times that he was pulled by the urge to do more than be, yet repeatedly struck by the lack of resources.  Paradoxically, it was during these times of powerlessness that he discovered the healing power of connection created by being fully there in the quiet understanding of another. In it, no one is truly alone.

Every night, he sat in the small chapel of the rectory and felt the presence of Him who had called him to become a priest and a missionary. There, too, in the presence of the Lord, he journeyed and sat with his confreres, particularly missionaries living alone in the other islands of the Archipelago of Tawi Tawi and Sulu.  In that silent and lonely island, Fr. Rey painstakingly discovered the power of presence that was not a one-way street, not only something missionaries give to others.

It is said by the old missionaries in the Archipelago that the islands and the communities always change them, and always for the better.  In Tabawan, there are two powerful witnesses of this mutual transformation and enrichment. The first was the ‘Bapa’ of Tabawan, Fr. Leopold Gregoire, OMI who lived and journeyed with the Sama people for nearly 20 years  and second was Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI who walked and sat with his Sama friends for nearly ten years. Both missionaries were changed and definitely, it was for the better.

 The life of Fr. Rey amid the Sama people was a witness of being with the weak, the poor and the marginalized.  He found this the hard way, often,  in turmoil questioning over and over again: why the poor continue to suffer not only of man-made disasters but also natural ones, why the poor are often the victims of almost total neglect by the ‘powerful’ and by seemingly endless calamities.  Their anguish and the cry of the poor DO NOT reach God!

Tabawan that led to a disclosure that God is NOT the all powerful one that he was taught from catechism to the liturgies. The God revealed to him in the island, especially in the night of his murder, was all weak, so helpless and so poor.

But was this not the message both of the manger and the cross? Yes, God is not only so poor and weak, but also a suffering one and dying on the cross. Is this not the real meaning of Emmanuel - his presence, God’s birth into the world?  God is NOT the all powerful one! Much less is He the all TRANSCENDENT One.  Definitely, the God revealed by Jesus in the Manger and the Cross is NOT a sort of a SUPERNATURAL DEITY!

This message Fr. Rey, OMI heard while sitting in the chapel in the company of the Lord who invited him to live a radically different life from what the world offers. It was an invitation to live a life of simplicity and at the service of the poor and all who were on the fringes of society.  These so called unclean, unwanted, unacceptable people, the pagans, the sinners, the prisoners, and the lepers are now the number one in the roll call of Jesus of Bethlehem and of Golgotha. These were the people through whom God chooses to reveal Himself. (Fr. Eliseo R.Mercado, OMI)

Fr. Reynaldo Roda, OMI - Martyr of Tabawan

Remembering our Martyr, Fr. Rey Roda, OMI
On the 6th Year of his Martyrdom - January 15, 2008

A mission for God’s kingdom does not die because a missionary is killed no matter how violent and brutal his death might have been. The mission lives on and even stronger because the blood of the martyr will nourish and strengthen the growth of that mission for God’s kingdom.

“If you want me, then just kill me here in God’s chapel!” Those   were the words heard from Fr. Rey as he was being forcedly taken out by his killers from the chapel where he was praying. There were shouts for help. Outside the chapel, near the flag pole in the quadrangle of Notre Dame of Tabawan High School, a piercing shot was heard loud in the dark. After this, except for the silhouettes of the killers dragging their victim, nothing more was seen by those peeping through the jalousies from the second floor of the school building.

Later, Fr. Rey’s body was found just outside the school premises, left on a road near the shoreline from where the murderers sped away in a motorized boat. His body bore several wounds from gunshots, stabs and lacerations in the head, face, neck, abdomen and on the back. From the wounds it is quite clear that he was meant to be killed and not to be kidnapped. As regards who killed him or who had ordered the assassins to kill him, up to this writing, we are still waiting for a satisfactory investigation result from the authorities.

Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI., was mercilessly killed at about 8:30 in that bleak and starless evening of  January 15, 2008 in the remote island of Tabawan, South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. Not so distant southward is already Indonesian territory. He had been Director of Notre Dame of Tabawan High School and head of the OMI Mission Station there under the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo for ten years.
(Source: Book on Fr. Rey Roda, OMI))

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Feast of the Lord's Baptism (A)

 Readings: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7; Acts 10: 34-38; Matthew 3: 13-17
 Text: “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.” (Matthew 3: 16)
 Meditation: We, too, at our baptism were filled by the Holy Spirit and we have become “Spirit-filled persons”.  Let us, then, honor the HS in us and let the Spirit continue to be at work in our lives… By the power of the same Spirit, we become God’s own sons and daughters
 1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Badaliyya 010
January 08, 2014
Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

Dear Friends,

As I write this letter I am aware of the special Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord to the Magi.  And on this occasion, I would like to present once again the person of Blessed Charles de Foucauld as the image through which the new Epiphany of the Lord can be made manifest to the ‘Gentiles’ of our age.

Fr. Charles Foucauld is the friend and guide of  Fr. Louis Massignon’s Badaliyya prayer.  Fr. Massignon referred to Fr. Charles to as an “older brother”. His own letters to the Badaliyya members included many references to Fr. Charles and the prayer of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament was included in every gathering, as it now is for every gathering of Blessed Charles’ many lay and religious fraternities world wide.

I am quoting from a series of articles that appeared during his Beatification on a French Internet site that inspired my enthusiasm once again for a spiritual legacy that has far reaching implications for our own Badaliyya prayer.

Bishop Claude Rault who serves in the Algerian Sahara writes: “Charles de Foucauld was not a “perfect” human being, far from it. Nevertheless, his radical choice in service of God and his “beloved Jesus”, his desire to join with the farthest away and poorest of peoples, his hours spent in prayer in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, his days spent in welcoming everyone who came as a “brother”, his spiritual wandering in quest of his vocation, and so many other aspects of his personality that make him close to us and accessible, at last, a saint within our reach, even if he remains... inimitable! And yet, there are religious families of men and women born from the profound intuition of Charles, “little brothers” and “little sisters” spread out in the most remote corners throughout the world.... These spiritual children of the “universal brother” have made their priority the poorest populations, the most abandoned, farthest from society, sometimes to the limit of the possible....

There are also thousands of priests, religious and laypersons who have discovered through his message a way of living the Gospel more fully to the ends of the earth, in fraternal sharing, caring for the smallest among us, and in silent adoration. There are finally all those who have discovered the grandeur of this personality and its spiritual dimension that do not belong to his spiritual family nor even to his religion. Blessed Charles, who through his trials and errors, his thirst for solitude and for relationships, his great love of God and of his neighbor, still shows us today the way to universal brother/sisterhood! He invites us to leave our frivolousness, our reassuring boundaries, and our small spiritual comfort, to rise to the numbers of challenges that he confronted without always succeeding. It is up to us to continue the path that he outlined for us”. .

Brother Charles lifelong inspiration was what he called his “Nazareth”, living the hidden life of the worker, Jesus of Nazareth, before his public ministry began.

Monsignor Maurice Bouvier, postulator of the Cause for the Beatification of Brother Charles, member of the Priest’s Fraternity Jesus-Caritas, described the process in detail and wrote: “Nazareth has a permanent message for the Church. The New Alliance does not begin in the Temple, nor on the Holy Mountain, but in the small house of the Virgin, in the house of the worker, in the places forgotten by the people of Galilee, from which no one would expect anything good. It is only from there that the Church will find a new beginning and healing. She will never provide a true response to the revolution in our century against the powers of wealth and consumerism if, in her own heart, Nazareth is not a lived reality”.

Let us pray then that the seeds planted by Blessed Charles continue to bear fruit in abundance.

Paz y Bien.

Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI

(Note: The letter borrowed heavily from a similar letter by Dorothy Buck of Badaliyya USA)

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Prophets of our Time...

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 have 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?

When Louis Massignon, the French scholar of islam and Catholic mystic started the Badaliya prayer movement in Cairo in 1934 with the Egyptian Melkite Christian, Mary Kahil, he was answering a call to a vocation grounded in love of God and love of others. As the Muslim Arabs became the majority in Egypt, Arab Christians were increasingly marginalized. While Mary Kahil devoted much of her life to both Muslim and Christian Arab women's rights she was also intent on maintaining the visibility and rich cultural heritage of Egyptian Christians in the midst of Islam. The word Badaliya in Arabic means to take the place of, instead of, or substitution, and the prayer is an offering of oneself to God for the well being of others. Louis Massignon invited Mary Kahil to join him in devoting their lives and their prayer to the Muslim people around them. He understood the Badaliya as a call to feeling the pain and suffering of others and joining their experience of it to the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of all humanity. They took these words of Jesus seriously,“Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors”.(Matt.5:44) It is not easy to feel persecuted or marginalized and be willing to pray for those who persecute us let alone feel compassion and love for them.

The Badaliya movement became a means of “crossing over” to the other, of entering into the Muslim life and community in order to grow in understanding and mutual respect. Louis Massignon was a prophetic voice in his time whose embrace of arabic culture and Islam pointed to a means of interreligious understanding that went beyond dialogue to the essence of Christian love. It led to a Muslim-Christian shared prayer group that survived until 1979 and to an annual Muslim and Christian pilgrimage that continues to this day in Brittany, France. In 1948 when the modern state of Israel was in its infancy Louis Massignon was outspoken in his prophecy of disaster for the whole Middle East if the three religions of Abraham were not reconciled to living side by side in peaceful co-existence. The path towards a Palestinian crisis was already clear to him.Was anyone listening? On June 1, 1962, five months before his death, Massignon wrote:

“... We do not tire in repeating that it is necessary to pray together, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, for the advent of this so desired and waited for peace. Every tentative economic and even cultural ageement, if it is not founded on a sincere movement of hearts, united in faith in the God of Abraham, Father of believers, can only frighten the third world and be rejected...”

This letter was written 45 years ago.Christians are still being marginalized in Arab countries all over the world and there are communities of Egyptian,Palestinian, Iraqis, and other Arab Christians throughout the Middle East struggling to live together peacefully with their Muslim and Jewish neighbors.The prophets among them are the many grassroots groups working in mental health centers, parents circles, the Holy Land Trust in Israel, Christian Peacemakers Teams, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Families Forum and Rabbis for Human Rights, along with many other human rights organizations from all over the world. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?' Here I am, I said, send me!' (Isaiah 6:8-9)

An Iraqi friend of mine speaks of growing up in Baghdad very much the way a young married Muslim woman wrote in her weblog this past Christmas 2004: “Iraqis have strong bonds between them in spite of religion or ethnic differences, we all work together, have neighbors from other religions,visit each other and respect our differences. My neighbors are Shias, my best friends are Christians and Kurds, and I am Sunni, but we all have good relations between us. Christians celebrate Christmas with traditions very similar to our Eid (feast). Muslims and Christians visit each other in Eid (by the way the Christians call their Christmas Eid too)....They serve our traditional Kulaicha besides some pastries just like us. My daughter has her share of gifts for Christmas too, and she always asks me why Santa doesn't come to our house too? I don't know what to tell her so I usually say that Santa brings your gifts and puts them in our friends house so you can take them from there.” (Dec.22, 2004. www. rosebaghdad.blogspot.com) Are we listening to the prophets among us?

Here in the United States, in the spirit of Louis Massignon, we recreated the Badaliya prayer for our time two years ago. We are responding to a quite different challenge than he and Mary Kahil were in 1934 since we live in a predominantly Christian society and it is our Muslim neighbors who are a distinct minority. Ancient medieval prejudices and misconceptions still inform our unconscious responses to Muhammad and Islam and we can no longer afford to allow ourselves to remain ignorant of them. Giulio Basetti-Sani was an Italian Franciscan priest who met Louis Massignon in 1936 and continued to refer to him as a mentor until Massignon died in 1962. Basetti-Sani describes his own misconceptions of Islam at the time and realized how influenced he had been by the rhetoric of the medieval crusades of the popes and fears of later 17th century Christian writers. When he presented these views to Massignon the professor answered,”The medieval Christian world taught that Muhammad was a messenger of Satan and that the Allah of the Qur'an was not the God of Abraham. We should not do to others what we would not have them do to us”.

Basetti-Sani writes,” Massignon had alerted me against an unjust condemnation of (Islam) that precluded any sincere and productive dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a mystery linked with the blessing obtained by Abraham from God for his son Ishmael and Ishmael's progeny. This line of thought, taken from the Bible, is the one to take in order to grasp the significance of Islam. Before we parted Massignon gave me two thoughts meant as guidelines in my reorientation. One was from Augustine, ' Love sees with new eyes', and the other was from John of the Coss,'Where there is no love put love, and you will find Love Himself'. It was true: my eyes had seen badly...Later, when my eyes were to see clearly, I would discover in Islam and the Muslims the reflections of the infinite goodness of God”. (Basetti-Sani. 1977. “The Koran in the Light of Christ” Franciscan Herald Press IL pp..17-18)

The media coverage of Islamic fundamentalist and terrorist groups hardly helps us to overcome our misconceptions of Islam and the teachings found in the Qur'an. Yet, Muslims are very clear about the distortions of their religion and use of it for violent behavior and political purposes by fundamentalist groups. The meaning of the Arabic word, Islam tells us a great deal about those of this faith tradition. Islam means “submission” and comes from the root for the arabic word for “peace”, salaam. Muslim believers are called to submit themselves entirely to the will of God, Allah, and to find within that experience an abiding peace. For most Muslims Islam is both a religion and a way of life that leads to peace, mercy and forgiveness.
“It may be that Allah will grant love (and friendship) between you and those who you (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”.( Qur'an Sura 60:7)
”But if the enemy inclines towards peace, you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah for He is One who hears and knows (all things)”.(Qur'an Sura 8:61)

Are we listening to our Muslim neighbors, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Abraham?At a gathering of Muslims and Christians co-sponsored by the Islamic Council of New England, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and the Archdiocese of Boston recently there was a newspaper article distributed at the gathering. It is a description with interviews of the detention at the US and Canadian border of 40 Muslims returning to Buffalo from an Islamic conference in Toronto entitled,”Reviving the Islamic Spirit”. Most of those stopped were American citizens and included everyone from the U.S.A. who attended the conference. They were stopped, fingerprinted and held for as long as six hours with no explanation. 

One 18 year old student was singled out, searched, finger printed and questioned. He was forced to go along and when he refused he was told that he legally had no choice. He was initially told that his vehicle was being stopped as part of a random check but he noticed that everyone from the conference was being held.“We weren't treated as American citizens. We were treated as suspects”. Others described the incident as “an ordeal, embarrassing, dangerous and un-American, If objections are not raised,what's going to happen in the future”? were some of the quotes. The article states,”..the Toronto conference was open to the public and featured well-known and well-respected Muslim leaders, many of whom have had discussions with White House officials”.(paraphrased and quote from Buffalo News,Jan. 31,2005 by Jay Tokasz,staff reporter).

At the Boston gathering the discussion led to one prophetic voice from a Muslim living in the Boston area, “I came to this country seeking the safety of a country with laws that protect my right to live my fatih as a Muslim and to escape living in fear every day. Now I feel fearful again”. Someone else asked that we ‘”Christians” stand with them as they fight against the religious and racial profiling that each of them has experienced after September 11th in the name of “homeland securtiy”.Are we losing the very democratic ideals that are the foundation of this country in our fear of the strangers in our midst? Have we not yet heard this Gospel passage?

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me......Then the just will ask him: ....Lord, when did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness?....The king will answer them:”I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me”. (Matthew 25:31-40)

Louis Massignon's experience of compassion was the ground for his spiritual life and a prophetic call for our time. In one of his letters to members of the Badaliya prayer movement he writes:

“As long as God leaves us absorbed in our own suffering we remain sterile, nailed to ourselves. As soon as compassion brings us beyond ourselves to another's suffering than our own, we enter into the science of compasson experientially, we discover wisdom in it. In the immortal company of all creatures purified by angelic and human trial we glimpse the joy of tomorrow through the pain of today.

Our desire, Christ's desire, for substitution,“badaliya”, for the most unfortunate, for the abandoned, for our “enemies”, make us little by little guess the secret of history, which belongs, Léon Bloy said, to the souls of compassion and pain; and it is through “substitution” that they decipher it, by achieving it”. (Letter #1 1947 )
The Badaliya prayer led Massignon to more and more social action as he responded to the injustices in his country and in the world in his time. He remains a prophetic voice as we continue to face many of the same injustices that he describes so passionately in his letters. Isn't our Lenten fasting, prayer and almsgiving ultimately meant to draw us ever closer to the mind and heart of God, to the fulness of life in God? And doesn't that lead us to greater and greater compassion, hospitality and to the heart of non-violence and love? In 1957 Massignon wrote:

“In its edition last August 9th, ‘the Commonweal', the New York Catholic weekly,
completed an article in which the Badaliya was urged to hold firm to its program of non-violent action, in saying," (the Badaliya) remembers that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit injustice, and that is the test which, to a Muslim ("one who has surrendered to God")proves that he is a Muslim. And for us, as St. Augustine pointed out, it is the test of a Christian". (LM Convocation #11)

The essence of the Badaliya prayer movement for our time is poignantly captured by Thich Nhat Hanh.There are many prophetic voices to guide us.May we always listen to them:

“If any accident happens to one member of our family, the whole family suffers. When an accident happens to a part of our nation, it happens to the whole nation. When an accident happens to a part of the planet Earth it happens to the whole planet, and together we bear it. When we see that their suffering is our own suffering, and their death is our death, we have begun to see the no-self nature.....Whenever we love, we see that the person we love is ourselves; and if our loved one dies, we also die. Although we are sitting here, and we have the impression that we are alive, in fact we have also died. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.....The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. We have to see that and wake up”.

(part of a response to the recent devastating earthquake in Asia on Dec. 26,2004, the Tsunami, by the Vietnamese Buddhist --Thich Nhat Hanh)

A Letter to Friends of Badaliya...

Dear Friends of the Badaliya,

In the quiet of this intimate sacred space we continued to share our reflections on the importance of Abraham in Louis Massignon's spirituality and his vision of the profound connections of the three Abrahmic faith traditions.

We focus on an article by Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, SJ called In Praise of Syncretism: A message to Jesuits involved in Muslim-Christian Relations".

Paolo Dall'Oglio is an Italian Jesuit living in the Christian community and monastery of Deir Mar Musa near Damascus in Syria, a place that he considers as Christian as it is Muslim. Its members, he says, intend "to reinvent the positive relationship that existed between the first Muslims and the {Christian} monks on the borders of the Arabian desert". He also wrote: "Do I consider myself personally a Muslim? I think so, through evangelical grace and obedience. I am a Muslim because of the love of God for Muslims and Islam. I cannot but be a Muslim by way of the Spirit and not the letter. In the same way, like Jesus and the apostles, I am Jewish by way of the Spirit". This article can be found at http://justgoodcompany.com/1.2/dallogliotext.htm

We look forward to sharing our reflections and experience of this prayer as we deepen our commitment to open our hearts to be able to "cross over to the other" in compassion and hospitality.

Pace e Bene.
Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI

Cotabato City

January 4th, 2014

The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (A)

Readings: Isaiah 60: 1-7; Ephesians 3: 2. 5-6; Matthew 2: 1-12
Text: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”  (Matthew 2: 10-11)
Meditation: This feast celebrates the manifestation of the Lord to the Magi… They saw his star and followed it until they saw the child, the savior.  We need to see, too, his star and follow it in our daily journey and hoping that one day, we shall find him and pay him homage… For this to happen, we need to be able to discern the signs of the times.
1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.