Citadel of Faith

Letters to the American Bahá'í Community

One Remaining Objective Hangs in the Balance

The American Bahá'í Community, undefeated as yet in the performance of any task undertaken collectively by its members, in the course of its eventful history, is now entering a period of grave emergency, that will try the mettle of every single one of its members. Severe as the challenge will be, however prolonged the test, no matter how distracting the condition of the world about them, the issues which claim every ounce of their energy and call for their sustained, wholehearted, concentrated attention are so weighty that none can evaluate at present the influence they will exert on the course of the community's future destiny.

There can be no doubt that the Second Seven Year Plan, the vital link binding the initial and concluding stages of the first epoch in the progressive evolution of `Abdu'l-Bahá's long-term continually unfolding Plan, has reached its crucial phase--a phase on which hinge the fortunes not only of the Plan itself but of the community as a whole. The fourth objective of the Plan, the transatlantic project, on which its members have embarked, has, four years ahead of schedule, been, to all intents and purposes, victoriously achieved. The third objective has been partly attained, while its complete fulfillment, as a direct consequence of the marvelous success that has attended the valiant labors of the American pioneers and the newly enrolled native believers in Latin America, appears to be now fully assured. The attainment of the first objective has, as a result of the remarkable impetus given, during the opening years of the Plan, to the multiplication of spiritual assemblies and the proclamation of the Faith in North America, been greatly facilitated, and will, with steady effort, involving not too great an expenditure of energy, be insured in the course of the concluding phase of the Plan. The completion of the Mother Temple of the West, the sacredness of which neither the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Bahá'í world, nor any future House of Worship to be erected by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, in any country, at any future date, can rival, in time for the celebration of its Jubilee, is the one remaining objective that now hangs precariously in the balance. Owing to a combination of circumstances wholly beyond the control of its builders, this task has assumed a critical importance, and is of such vital urgency, that no prosecutor of the Plan, eager to witness its consummation, can afford to ignore for a moment.

The sacrifice demanded is such as to have no parallel whatsoever in the history of that community. The manifold issues inextricably interwoven with the campaign audaciously launched for the achievement of this high objective are of such a weighty character as to overshadow every enterprise embarked upon through the organized efforts of its members, in either the concluding years of the Heroic Age of the Faith or the first epoch of the Age which succeeded it. The two years during which this emergency will be most keenly felt coincide on the one hand with a period of increasing distraction occasioned by the uncertainties, the perils and fears of a steadily worsening international situation, and on the other with the centenary of one of the most turbulent, afflictive and glorious stages of Bahá'í history--a stage immortalized by an effusion of blood, a self-abnegation, a heroism unsurpassed not only in the annals of the Faith but in the world's spiritual history. How meritorious, indeed, are the self-denying acts which this supremely challenging hour now calls forth, amidst the perplexities and confusion which present-day society is now experiencing! And yet, how trifling in comparison with the self-immolation of the most distinguished, the most precious heroes and saints of the Primitive Age of our glorious Faith! An outpouring of treasure, no less copious than the blood shed so lavishly in the Apostolic Age of the Faith by those who in the heart of the Asiatic continent proclaimed its birth to the world, can befit their spiritual descendants, who, in the present Formative Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, have championed the Cause, and assumed so preponderating a share in the erection of its Administrative Order, and are now engaged in the final stage of the building of the House that incarnates the soul of that Faith in the American continent. No sacrifice can be deemed too great to insure the completion of such an edifice--the most holy House of Worship ever to be associated with the Faith of the Most Great Name--an edifice whose inception has shed such a luster on the closing years of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, which has assumed a concrete shape in the present Formative stage in the evolution of our beloved Faith, whose dependencies must spring into existence in the course of successive epochs of this same Age, and whose fairest fruits will be garnered in the Age that is to come, the last, the Golden Age of the initial and brightest Dispensation of the five-thousand-century Bahá'í Cycle.

"A most wonderful and thrilling motion will appear in the world of existence," are `Abdu'l-Bahá's own words, predicting the release of spiritual forces that must accompany the completion of this most hallowed House of Worship. "From that point of light," He, further glorifying that edifice, has written, "the spirit of teaching ... will permeate to all parts of the world." And again: "Out of this Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, without doubt, thousands of Mashriqu'l-Adhkars will be born." "It marks the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth."

Again I repeat--and I cannot overrate the vital, the unique importance of the campaign now launched to insure the completion of such an edifice--the immediate destiny of the American Bahá'í Community is intimately and inescapably bound up with the outcome of this newly launched, this severely trying, soul-purging, spiritually uplifting campaign. The God-given mission, constituting the birthright, and proclaiming the primacy of a community whose members the Founder of that community, the Center of the Covenant Himself, has addressed as the "Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh," can only be fulfilled if they befittingly obey the specific Mandate issued by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Tablets of the Divine Plan. The execution of this Mandate is, in its turn, dependent upon the triumphant conclusion of the Second Seven Year Plan, the second stage in the series of specific plans formulated to insure the successful termination of the opening phase in the execution of that Mandate. Indeed, the successive plans, inaugurated since the birth of the second Bahá'í century, by the British, the Indian, the Persian, the Australia-New Zealand, the Iraqi, the German and the Egyptian National Assemblies, with the exception of the plan undertaken by the Canadian National Assembly, which forms an integral part of the Plan associated with the Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, are but supplements to the vast enterprise whose features have been delineated in those Tablets and are to be regarded, by their very nature, as regional in scope, in contrast with the world-embracing character of the mission entrusted to the community of the champion builders of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, and the torch-bearers of the civilization which that Order must eventually establish. As to the Second Seven Year Plan itself, its eventual success must depend on the attainment of its second and most vital objective. This objective, in its turn, cannot be achieved unless the two-year campaign, now launched by the elected representatives of this community, is successfully carried out. Nor can this campaign yield its richest fruit unless and until the community, in its entirety, participates in this nation-wide sacrificial effort. Nor can this collective effort be blessed, to the fullest extent possible, unless the contributions made by its members involve acts of self-abnegation, not only on the part of those of modest means, but also by those endowed with substantial resources. Nor, indeed, can these self-denying acts, by both the rich and the poor, be productive of the fullest possible benefit unless this sacrificial effort is neither momentary nor haphazard, but rather systematic and continuous throughout the period of the present emergency.

Then and only then will this holy edifice, symbol and harbinger of a world civilization as yet unborn, and the embodiment of the sacrifice of a multitude of the upholders of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, release the full measure of the regenerative power with which it has been endowed, shed in all its plenitude the glory of the Most Holy Spirit dwelling within it, and vindicate, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the truth of every single promise recorded by the pen of `Abdu'l-Bahá pertaining to its destiny.

No more befitting consummation for this magnificent enterprise can be envisaged than that this noble edifice, whose cornerstone has been laid by `Abdu'l-Bahá's own hands, the preliminary measure for whose construction synchronized with the formal interment of the Báb's remains on Mt. Carmel, within whose walls the first Centenary of the birth of His ministry has been celebrated, whose interior ornamentation has coincided with the construction of the arcade of His Sepulcher, should be vouchsafed the honor of having the Jubilee of its inception coincide with, and celebrated on the occasion of, the Centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's prophetic Mission in the Siyáh-Chál of Tihrán.

[April 11, 1949]

Citadel of Faith
Letters to the American Bahá'í Community
pages 67-71

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