Citadel of Faith

Letters to the American Bahá'í Community

The Citadel of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh

As the threat of still more violent convulsions assailing a travailing age increases, and the wings of yet another conflict, destined to contribute a distinct, and perhaps a decisive, share to the birth of the new Order which must signalize the advent of the Lesser Peace, darken the international horizon, the eyes of the divers communities, comprising the body of the organized followers of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, are being increasingly fixed upon the progressive unfoldment of the tasks which the executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Mandate have been summoned to undertake in the course of the second stage of their world-girdling mission. Past experience, ranging over a period of many years, has taught them that no matter how formidable the external obstacles that have confronted them during the turbulent and eventful decades since the Master's passing, and despite the strain and stress which internal crises, precipitated by enemies from within and by adverse economic circumstances afflicting their country, have imposed, the stalwart occupants of the citadel of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh have with extraordinary steadfastness, enviable fidelity and magnificent courage, not only shielded the interests, preserved the integrity and demonstrated the worthiness, of the Cause they have embraced, but have sallied forth, with dynamic and irrepressible energy, to implant its banner and establish its outposts in countries and continents far beyond the original scene of their operations.


Neither the irreparable loss sustained by the termination of the earthly life of a vigilant Master, nor the acute distress caused by the financial collapse which suddenly swept their country, nor the unprecedented tragedy of a world crisis that swept their land and its people into its vortex, nor the perils and uncertainties, the exhaustion and the disillusionment associated with its aftermath nor even the soul-shaking tests which periodically assailed them, through the defection and the attacks of Covenant-breakers, occupying, by virtue of their kinship to, or their long association with, the Founder of their community, exalted positions at the World Center of the Faith, or in the land from which it sprang, or in their own country--none of these have succeeded in vitiating the hidden spring of their spiritual life, in deflecting them from their chosen course, or in even retarding the forward march and fruition of their enterprises. In the toilsome task of fixing the pattern, of laying the foundations, of erecting the machinery, and of setting in operation the Administrative Order of their Faith, in the execution of the successive stages in the erection and exterior ornamentation of their Temple, in the launching of the initial enterprise under `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, which enabled them to establish the structural basis of the Order, recently laid in their homeland, in every republic of Central and South America; in the sustained, the systematic and prodigious effort exerted for the enlargement of the administrative foundations of the institutions of their Faith in every state and province of the United States and the Dominion of Canada; in the parallel endeavors aimed at the widespread dissemination of its literature, and the proclamation of its verities and tenets to the masses; in the launching of the Second Seven Year Plan, which has extended the ramifications of the Divine Plan across the Atlantic to ten sovereign states of the European continent and which has already yielded a rich return through the formation of the first Canadian Bahá'í National Assembly and the convocation of the first European Teaching Conference; in the repeated, the timely, the spontaneous and generous contributions they have made, on numerous occasions, for the relief of the persecuted among their brethren, for the defense of their institutions, for the vindication of their rights, for the consolidation of their activities and the progress of their enterprises--in all these the champions of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh have, with ever-increasing emphasis, borne witness to the sublimity of the faith which burns within their breasts, to the radiance of the vision that shines clearly and steadily before their eyes, the sureness and rapidity that mark their gigantic strides, and the vastness and glory of the unique mission entrusted to their hands.

Milestones of historic significance have been successively reached and rapidly left behind. A still stonier stretch of road now lies before them. Rumblings of catastrophes yet more dreadful agitate with increasing frequency a sorely stressed and chaotic world, presenting a challenge to grapple with the unfinished tasks, a challenge graver and still more pressing than any hitherto experienced.


The present and remaining contracts, designed to consummate the magnificent enterprise, initiated almost fifty years ago, in the heart of the North American continent and complete an edifice consecrated for all time by the loving hands of the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, constituting the foremost symbol of the Faith, and incarnating the soul of the American Bahá'í Community in the Western Hemisphere, must be speedily and systematically carried out, however onerous the task may become, in consequence of the inevitable fluctuations to which the present economic conditions are subjected, in preparation for the jubilee that must mark the completion of that holy edifice. The recent broadening of the administrative basis of the Faith in a land that has served, and will long remain the base of the spiritual operations now being conducted in both hemispheres, in response to the ringing call of `Abdu'l-Bahá, sounded three decades ago in His historic Tablets, must, no matter how arduous and insistent the tasks to be performed in Latin America and Europe, be fully maintained, and the process continually enlarged and steadily consolidated. The various agencies designed to carry the Message to the masses, and to present to them befittingly the teachings of its Author, must, likewise, be vigilantly preserved, supported and encouraged. The essential preliminaries, calculated to widen the basis of the forthcoming Latin American national Bahá'í assemblies, to familiarize the Latin American believers with the administrative duties and functions they will be called upon to discharge and to enrich and deepen their knowledge of the essentials of their Faith, its ideals, its history, its requirements and its problems, must be carried out with ever-increasing energy as the hour of the emergence of these Latin American communities into independent existence steadily and inexorably approaches. The necessary guidance, which can alone be properly insured through the maintenance of an uninterrupted extension of administrative assistance, through the settlement of pioneers and the visits of itinerant teachers to the daughter communities, must under no circumstances be completely withdrawn, after their independence has been achieved. Above all, the momentous enterprise initiated in the transatlantic field of service, so vast in conception, so timely, so arduous, so far-reaching in its potentialities, so infinitely meritorious, must in the face of obstacles, however insurmountable they may seem, be continually reinvigorated through undiminished financial support, through an ever-expanding supply of literature in each of the required languages, through frequent, and whenever possible prolonged, visits of itinerant teachers, through the continued settlement of pioneers, through the consolidation of the assemblies already established, through the early constitution of properly functioning assemblies in the few remaining goal countries as yet deprived of this inestimable blessing, and last but not least through the exertion of sustained and concentrated efforts designed to supplement these foci of Bahá'í national administrative activity with subsidiary centers whose formation will herald the inauguration of teaching enterprises throughout the provinces of each of these ten countries.

As the dynamic forces, sweeping forward the First Seven Year Plan, on the last stages of its execution, rose rapidly to a crescendo, culminating in the nationwide celebrations marking the centenary of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and synchronized with a further and still more precipitous decline in the fortunes of a war-torn bleeding society, so must every aggravation in the state of a world still harassed by the ravages of a devastating conflict, and now hovering on the brink of a yet more crucial struggle, be accompanied by a still more ennobling manifestation of the spirit of this second crusade, whose consummation might well coincide with a period of distress far more acute than the one through which humanity is now passing.


Not ours to speculate, or dwell upon the immediate workings of an inscrutable Providence presiding alike over the falling fortunes of a dying Order and the rising glory of a Plan holding within it the seeds of the world's spiritual revival and ultimate redemption. Nor can we attempt as yet, whilst the second stage in the operation of such a Plan has not yielded its destined fruit, to visualize the nature of the tasks, or discern the character of the circumstances that will mark the progressive unfoldment of a third successive crusade, the successful termination of which must signalize the closing of the first historic epoch in the evolution of the Divine Plan. All we can be sure of, and confidently assert, is that upon the outcome of the assiduous efforts now being collectively exerted, in three continents, by the North American, the Latin and European believers, acting under the Mandate of `Abdu'l-Bahá, associated with the one and only Plan conceived by Himself, aided by the agencies deriving their inspiration from His Will and Testament, and assured of the support promised by the pen of His Father, in His Most Holy Book, must solely depend the timing as well as the nature of the tasks which must be successfully carried out ere the closing of an epoch of such transcendent brightness and glory in the evolution of the mightiest Plan ever generated through the creative power of the Most Great Name, as manifested by the Will of the Center of His Covenant and the Interpreter of His Teaching.

There can be no doubt whatever that with every turn of the wheel, as a result of the operation of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Plan, and with every extension in the range of its evolution, a responsibility of still greater gravity and of wider import will have to be shouldered by its divinely chosen executors wherever its ramifications may extend and however oppressive the state of the countries and continents in which they may have to labor. They must strive, ceaselessly strive, ready for any emergency, steeled to meet any degree of opposition, unsatisfied with any measure of progress as yet achieved, prepared to make sacrifices far exceeding any they have already willingly made, and confident that such striving, such readiness, such resolution, such high-mindedness, such sacrifice will earn them the palm of a victory still more soul-satisfying and resounding in its magnificence than any as yet won since the inception of their mission.

May He Who called them into being and raised them up, Who fostered them in their infancy, Who extended to them the blessing of His personal support in their years of childhood, Who bequeathed to them the distinguishing heritage of His Plan, Whose Will and Testament initiated them, during the period of their adolescence, in the processes of a divinely appointed Administrative Order, Who enabled them to attain maturity through the inauguration of the first stage in the execution of His Plan, Who conferred upon them the privilege of spiritual parenthood at the close of the initial phase in the operation of that same Plan, continue through the further unfoldment of the second stage in its evolution to guide their steps along the path leading to the assumption of functions proclaiming the attainment of full spiritual manhood, and enable them eventually, through the long and slow processes of evolution and in conformity with the future requirements of a continually evolving Plan, to manifest before the eyes of the members of their sister communities, their countrymen and the whole world, and in all their plenitude, the potentialities inherent within them, and which in the fullness of time, must reflect in its perfected form, the glories of the mission constituting their birthright.

[November 8, 1948]

Citadel of Faith
Letters to the American Bahá'í Community
pages 58-63

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