The first half of the two-year austerity period, inaugurated at so anxious an hour in the fortunes of the Second Seven Year Plan, has been successfully traversed, and deserves to be regarded as a memorable episode in the history of the Faith and the unfoldment of the Plan in the North American continent. An effort, prodigious, nation-wide, sustained, and reminiscent in its heroism and consecration of the immortal exploits of the dawn-breakers of the Apostolic Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, has been exerted by their spiritual descendants, in circumstances which, though totally different in character, are yet no less challenging and for a cause as meritorious--an effort that has indeed outshone the high endeavors that have distinguished for so long the record of service associated with the American Bahá'í Community. All of its members who have participated in this collective undertaking should be heartily congratulated, particularly those who, by their acts of self-abnegation, have emulated the example of the heroes of our Faith at the early dawn of its history. The entire Bahá'í world is stirred when contemplating the range of such an effort, the depth of consecration reached by those who have participated in it, the results it has achieved, the noble purpose it has served. My heart overflows with gratitude for the repeated evidences of worthiness demonstrated by this generous-hearted, valiant and dedicated community which has, no matter how onerous the task, how challenging the issue, how distracting the external circumstances with which it has been surrounded, never shirked its duty or hesitated for a moment.
The high watermark of so gigantic an exertion, however, still remains to be reached. The year now entered, ushered in and consecrated by the Centenary of the tragic execution of the Martyr-Prophet of our Faith, and packed with poignant memories of the persecutions of &Zanjan which stained its history a hundred years ago and carried its fortunes to almost its lowest ebb, and were a prelude to the most ghastly holocaust ever experienced by its followers, must witness as it rolls forward to its close, a still more striking demonstration of the tenacity of the members of this community, a still nobler display of acts of self-sacrifice, a still more inspiring manifestation of solidarity, and evidences of a grimmer determination, of a greater courage and perseverance in response to the triple call of this present hour.
The vital needs of the most holy House of Worship reared in the service and for the glory of the Most Great Name, though virtually met, still require the last exertions to ensure its completion as the hour of its Jubilee approaches. The Latin-American enterprise, initiated thirteen years ago, and marking the initial collective undertaking launched by the American Bahá'í Community beyond the confines of the great republic of the West, and under the mandate of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, still in a state of emergency and rapidly advancing towards its initial fruition, demands unrelaxing vigilance, and calls for still more strenuous exertions and self-sacrifice on the part of those who have so enthusiastically embarked upon it, who have so conscientiously and painstakingly shepherded it along its destined course and throughout the early stages of its unfoldment, and who are now, as a result of their ceaseless exertions, witnessing the first efflorescence of their mammoth pioneer labors. The construction of the superstructure of the Holy Sepulcher of the Blessed Báb, now, at this anxious and urgent hour, superimposed on the manifold responsibilities shouldered by members of the American Bahá'í Community, affording them the first historic opportunity of directly sustaining, through their contributions, the most sacred enterprise ever undertaken in the history of the Faith, the first and most holy edifice reared at its World Center, and the initial international institution heralding the establishment of the supreme legislative body at the World Administrative Center, requires the immediate and sustained attention of the members of a community whose destiny has been linked, ever since its inception, with the various stages marking the rise and consolidation of this divinely appointed, unspeakably holy enterprise.
AN HOUR LADEN WITH FATE
The hour is critical, laden with fate. Responsibilities numerous and varied, as well as urgent and sacred, are crowding, in quick succession, upon a community youthful and valorous in spirit, rich in experience, triumphant in the past, sensible of its future obligations, keenly aware of the sublimity of its world mission, inflexibly resolved to follow with unfaltering steps the road of its destiny. The world situation is perilous and gloomy. Rumblings from far and near bode evil for the immediate fortunes of a sadly distracted society. The Second Seven Year Plan is now approaching its conclusion. The Centenary of the Martyrdom of the Báb with all its poignant memories is upon us. We are entering a period crowded with the centenaries of the direst calamities--massacres, sieges, captivities, spoliations and tortures involving thousands of heroes--men, women and children--the world's greatest Faith has ever experienced. Another centenary commemorating an event as tragic and infinitely more glorious is fast approaching. Time is short. Opportunities, though multiplying with every passing hour, will not recur, some for another century, others never again. However severe the challenge, however multiple the tasks, however short the time, however somber the world outlook, however limited the material resources of a hard-pressed adolescent community, the untapped sources of celestial strength from which it can draw are measureless, in their potencies, and will unhesitatingly pour forth their energizing influences if the necessary daily effort be made and the required sacrifices be willingly accepted.
Nor should it be forgotten that in the hour of adversity and in the very midst of confusion, peril and uncertainty, some of the most superb exploits, noising abroad the fame of this community have been achieved. The construction of the superstructure of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár during one of the severest depressions experienced by the people of the United States in this century; the inauguration of the first Seven Year Plan on the eve of and during the anxious years preceding the second world conflagration; its vigorous prosecution during its darkest days and its triumph before its conclusion; the launching of the European campaign on the morrow of the most devastating conflict that rocked the continent of Europe to its foundation--these stand out as shining evidences of the unfailing protection, guidance and sustaining power vouchsafed its members, so readily and so abundantly, in the hour of their greatest need and danger.
To consolidate the victories won, and reinforce the foundations of the unnumbered institutions so diligently established, in the North American continent; to rear the twin pillars of the Universal House of Justice in Latin America, with their concomitant administrative agencies functioning in no less than twenty republics of Central and South America; to maintain in their present strength the strongholds of the Faith in the ten goal countries of Europe; to complete the interior ornamentation of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the West, and its Mother Temple, in preparation of its Jubilee; to assist in the erection of the superstructure of a still holier edifice, envisaged by its Founder and established by the Center of His Covenant on God's holy mountain, at the very heart and center of our beloved Faith, would indeed constitute, by virtue of their scope, origin and character, embracing three continents and including within their range the World Center of the Faith itself, a worthy, befitting five-fold offering placed on the altar of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, on the occasion of the Centenary of the birth of His Mission by a community which, more than any sister community, in East or West, has contributed, since the inception of the Formative Age of His Faith to the enlargement of its limits, the rise and establishment of its Administrative Order and the spread of its fame, glory and power.
That this community may, in the course of these three coming years, discharge its five-fold task--now assuming, through the stress of circumstances, still vaster proportions, and investing itself with still greater blessedness and merit, than originally envisaged--with a spirit outshining any hitherto shown in the course of its half-century stewardship to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, is my most fervent wish and the object of my special and ardent prayers at this time when my heart and mind are fixed upon the sufferings and passion of the Báb on the occasion of the Centenary of His Martyrdom.
[July 5, 1950]