Citadel of Faith

Letters to the American Bahá'í Community

This Hour, Crowded With Destiny

The efforts exerted, and the results achieved, by the members of the American Bahá'í Community during the opening months of the two-year emergency period are such as to merit the highest commendation and praise. They will, if the effort be sustained, evoke the admiration of the entire Bahá'í world, which is now watching, with feelings of wonder and expectancy, the outcome of the tremendous labor of this community now confronted with one of the most challenging, arduous and far-reaching tasks ever undertaken in its history.

The great forward stride that has already been undertaken, during so short a period, augurs well for the ultimate victory, now within sight--a victory which will pave the way for the successful execution of a seven-year enterprise, destined, in its turn, to enable its executors to launch, at the appointed time, the third and most glorious stage in the initial unfoldment of `Abdu'l-Bahá's unique and grand design for that privileged and conspicuously blessed community.

No less striking has been the achievement of the representatives of this community in the vast and most recent field of their historic and highly meritorious endeavors, exerted beyond the confines of their homeland, where over so vast a territory, on a continent so agitated, and amidst peoples so disillusioned, so varied in race, language and outlook, so impoverished spiritually, so paralyzed with fear, so confused in thought, so abased in their moral standards, so rent by internal schisms, victories so rich in promise, so startling in their rapidity, so magnificent in their range, have been won, and ennobled, to such a marked degree, the deathless record of American Bahá'í service to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.

Now that so prodigious and successful an effort has been exerted on behalf of the historic and sacred Temple, whose completion constitutes so vital an objective of the Second Seven Year Plan, and so conspicuous a triumph won in the transatlantic sphere of its operation, its needs and other vital objectives, both at home and in the Latin American field, must receive, in the months immediately ahead, the particular attention of both the national elected representatives of the community who supervise the working of the Plan and the mass of believers who participate in its execution.

While the financial requirements of the Mother Temple of the West are being met with unabated heroism by rich and poor alike in the critical months that lie ahead, and the measures to ensure the undiminished support, and the uninterrupted consolidation of the European enterprise are being assiduously carried out, a parallel effort, no less strenuous and sustained should be simultaneously exerted in the North American continent and in Central and South America, for the purpose of preserving the prizes already won over the length and breadth of the Western Hemisphere, where the initial impulse of this mighty and Divine Plan has been felt and its initial victories in foreign fields registered.

The assemblies of the North American continent, constituting the base for the gigantic operations destined to warm and illuminate, under American Bahá'í auspices, the five continents of the globe, must, at no time and under no circumstances, be allowed to diminish in number or decline in strength and in influence. The movement of pioneers, whether settlers or itinerant teachers, which in fields so distant from this base, has exhibited so marvelous a vitality, must, within the limits of the homeland itself, be neither interrupted nor suffer a decline. The groups and isolated centers so painstakingly formed and established must, conjointly with this highly commendable and essential duty, be maintained, fostered and if possible multiplied.

No less attention, while this emergency period taxes, to an unprecedented degree, the combined resources of the envied trustees of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, should be directed to the vast network of Bahá'í enterprises initiated throughout Latin America, where the work so nobly conceived, so diligently prosecuted, so conspicuously blessed, is rapidly nearing the first stage of its fruition. The flow of pioneers, so vital in all its aspects, and which has yielded such inestimable benefits at the early stages of this widely ramified enterprise, must, however urgent the other tasks already shouldered by an overburdened yet unfailingly protected community, be neither arrested nor slacken. The outpost of the newly born communities, established in the Straits of Magallanes in the South, must be held with undiminished vigor and determination. The major task of ensuring the breadth and solidity of the foundations laid for the establishment of two national Bahá'í assemblies, through the preservation of the present assemblies, groups and isolated centers, and the restoration of any of these vital centers, now dissolved, to their former status, must be scrupulously watched and constantly encouraged. The process of the dissemination of Bahá'í literature, of Bahá'í publication and translation, must continue unabated, however much the sacrifice involved. The newly fledged institutions of teaching and regional committees, of summer schools and of congresses, must be continually encouraged and increasingly supported by teachers as well as administrators, by pioneers from abroad, as well as by the native believers themselves. The highly salutary and spiritually beneficent experiment of encouraging a more active participation by these newly won supporters of the Faith in Latin America, and a greater assumption of administrative responsibility on their part, in the ever expanding activities to be entrusted wholly to their care in the years to come, should be, in particular, developed, systematized and placed on a sure and unassailable foundation. Above all, the paramount duty of deepening the spiritual life of these newly fledged, these precious and highly esteemed co-workers, and of enlightening their minds regarding the essential verities enshrined in their Faith, its fundamental institutions, its history and genesis--the twin Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the present Administrative Order, the future World Order, the Laws of the Most Holy Book, the inseparable institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice, the salient events of the Heroic and Formative Ages of the Faith, and its relationship with the Dispensations that have preceded it, its attitude toward the social and political organizations by which it is surrounded--must continue to constitute the most vital aspect of the great spiritual Crusade launched by the champions of the Faith from among the peoples of their sister republics in the South.

The magnitude of the tasks these heroes and champions of the Faith are summoned, at this hour, crowded with destiny, to discharge from the borders of Greenland to the southern extremity of Chile in the Western Hemisphere, and from Scandinavia in the north, to the Iberian peninsula in the south of the European continent, is, indeed, breath-taking in its implications and back-breaking in the strain it imposes. The sacrifices they are called upon to voluntarily make for the successful performance of such herculean, such holy, such epoch-making tasks, are comparable to none but those which their spiritual forbears have willingly accepted at the hour of the birth of their Faith more than a hundred years ago. Theirs is the privilege, no less meritorious and perhaps as epoch-making, to preside, in their own homeland and its neighboring continents, over, and direct the forces generated by, the birth of an order that posterity will acclaim as both the offspring of that Faith, and the precursor of the Golden Age in which that same Faith must, in the fullness of time, find its fullest expression and most glorious consummation.

How great the opportunity which the present hour, so dark in the fortunes of mankind and yet so bright in the ever-unfolding history of their Faith, offers them. How unspeakably precious the reward which they who serve it will reap! How pitiful and urgent the need of the waiting multitudes of these continents, summoned to sustain the initial impact of the operation of a divinely impelled Plan which no force can resist and no power can rival!

For what this superbly equipped community, this irresistibly advancing army of the chosen warriors of Bahá'u'lláh, battling under His banner, operating in conformity with the explicit Mandate voiced by His beloved Son, has already achieved, over so extensive a field, in such a brief time, at such great sacrifice, for so precious a Cause, and in the course of such turbulent years, I cannot but feel the deepest sense of gratitude the like of which no achievement, single or collective, rendered in any other part of the globe, by any community associated with the Cause of the Most Great Name has evoked. For what it will and must achieve in the future I entertain feelings of warm expectation and serene confidence. For it, I will continue, from the depths of a loving and grateful heart to supplicate blessings immeasurably richer than any it has yet experienced.

[August 18, 1949]

Citadel of Faith
Letters to the American Bahá'í Community
pages 74-78

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