To the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout America, care of the members of the American National Spiritual Assembly.
Fellow-laborers in the Divine Vineyard:
Upon my return, after a forced and prolonged absence, to the Holy Land, it is my first and most ardent wish to renew and strengthen those ties of brotherly love and fellowship that bind our hearts together in our common servitude to His sacred Threshold.
The two years that have elapsed since the passing of our beloved Master have been for the Cause, as well as for mankind, years of deep anxiety and pain. The momentous changes that are taking place in the history of both have proved so swift and far-reaching as to arouse in certain hearts a strange misgiving as to their stability and future.
On one hand the remarkable revelations of the Beloved’s Will and Testament, so amazing in all its aspects, so emphatic in its injunctions, have challenged and perplexed the keenest minds, whilst the ever-increasing confusion of the world, threatened as never before with disruptive forces, fierce rivalries, fresh commotions and grave disorder, has well-nigh overwhelmed the heart and damped the zeal of even the most enthusiastic believer in the destiny of mankind.
And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warnings of our beloved Master, who, in particular during the concluding years of His mission on earth, laid stress on the “severe mental tests” that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West—tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.
And as to the world’s evil plight, we need but recall the writings and sayings of Bahá’u’lláh, who, more than fifty years ago, declared in terms prophetic the prime cause of the ills and sufferings of mankind, and set forth their true and divine remedy. “Should the Lamp of Religion be hidden,” He declares, “Chaos and confusion will ensue.” How admirably fitting and applicable are these words to the present state of mankind!
Ours is then the duty and privilege to labor, by day and by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-men, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interest, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world.
Let us take heart and be thankful to our beloved ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, as we remember His manifold blessings and unfailing care and protection, ever since the hour of His departure from our midst. The flames of sedition, so maliciously kindled in the past by those who have dared to flout His will, are gone out for ever, and the fondest hopes of these evil plotters are now abandoned, doomed never to revive. He has indeed redeemed His promise!
It seemed not a long time ago that their agitation, so violently renewed immediately after the passing of our Beloved, would for a time confuse the Divine Message of Bahá’u’lláh, obscure His Covenant, retard the progress of His Cause, and shatter its unity; and yet how well we see them all today, not through our efforts, but by their own folly, and above all, by the intervention of the hidden hand of God, reduced to the vilest and most humiliating position.
And now, with the Cause purified and inwardly victorious, its principles vindicated, its enemies silenced and sunk in unspeakable misery, may we not, henceforth, direct all our efforts to collective action and constructive achievement, and, in utter disregard of the flickerings of their fast-fading light, arise to carry out those urgent measures that will secure the outward and complete triumph of the Cause.
I, for my part, as I look back to the unfortunate circumstances of ill-health and physical exhaustion that have attended the opening years of my career of service to the Cause, feel hardly gratified, and would be truly despondent but for the sustaining memory and inspiring example of the diligent and ceaseless efforts which my fellow-workers the world over have displayed during these two trying years in the service of the Cause.
I cherish the hope that, from now on, the Beloved may bestow upon me all the strength and vigor that will enable me to pursue over a long and unbroken period of strenuous labor the supreme task of achieving, in collaboration with the friends in every land, the speedy triumph of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. This is the prayer I earnestly request all my fellow-brethren and sisters in the Faith to offer on my behalf.
Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God’s holy purpose for mankind.
To the members of the American National Spiritual Assembly.
Friends and fellow-workers in the Vineyard of God!
After a long and unbroken silence, it gives me the greatest joy to be enabled to correspond again with my dearly-beloved co-workers of the National Spiritual Assembly.
Your three letters, dated June 8th, July 10th and October 12th, have been safely received, and to each I have given my earnest and fullest attention. Their perusal which reflects only a certain amount of your activities together with the study of the enclosed communications and circulars and of the detailed and admirable report of the proceedings of the Annual Convention have all served to heighten my admiration for the thoroughness, the ability, and the devotion with which you are conducting the affairs of the Cause of God in that land.
How often I have wished and yearned to be nearer to the field of your activities and thus be able to keep in a more constant and closer touch with every detail of the manifold and all-important services you render. I cherish the hope that erelong the facilities in the means of communication and transport will serve to draw us still nearer to one another, and fulfill, though partially, this long-desired wish.
I have been made happy and grateful to learn from your first letter that “throughout the sessions (of the last Convention) the atmosphere was one of great detachment and spirituality combined with practical vision and purpose.” I am deeply convinced that if the Annual Convention of the friends in America, as well as the National Spiritual Assembly, desire to become potent instruments for the speedy realization of the Beloved’s fondest hopes for the future of that country, they should endeavor, first and foremost, to exemplify, in an increasing degree, to all Bahá’ís and to the world at large the high ideals of fellowship and service which Bahá’u’lláh and the beloved Master repeatedly set before them. They can claim the admiration, the support and eventually the allegiance of their fellow-countrymen only by their strict regard for the dignity, the welfare, and the unity of the Cause of God, by their zeal, their disinterestedness, and constancy in the service of mankind, and by demonstrating, through their words and deeds, the need and practicability of the lofty principles which the Movement has proclaimed to the world.
The efforts you have displayed, and the considerable success you have achieved in consolidating the forces of the Movement in the United States and Canada have been a source of inspiration to every one of us, and, I am certain, will spur the friends throughout the East to combined and sympathetic activity for the promotion of the Cause.
My fervent prayer at the three Holy Shrines is that the bountiful Lord may bless His American friends who constitute the vanguard of His host in the Western world, and prosper them in their material affairs and pursuits, that the Cause which stands today in sore need of material help and assistance may advance, rapidly and unhindered, towards the fulfillment of its destiny.
With regard to the Bahá’í Fund, recently established amongst the friends, I trust that the matter now stands clear to every one throughout the country. As I have previously intimated, although individual friends and local Assemblies are absolutely free to specify the object and purpose of their donations to the National Spiritual Assembly, yet, in my opinion, I regard it of the utmost vital importance that individuals, as well as local Assemblies, throughout the land should, in view of the paramount importance of National Teaching and as an evidence of their absolute confidence in their national representatives, endeavor, however small at first, to contribute freely towards the upkeep and the increase of the National Bahá’í Fund, so that the members of the National Assembly may at their full discretion expend it for whatever they deem urgent and necessary.
Concerning the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, I shall always recall with pride and gratitude the self-sacrifice of the American friends and, in particular the devoted services of our dear Bahá’í sister, Mrs. True, and our beloved brethren, Dr. Bagdadi, Mr. Remey and Mr. Bourgeois, whose persistent efforts and devoted services are in the eyes of all friends highly praiseworthy. I would feel indeed disheartened were the friends to think for a moment, that its work should fall into abeyance, nay, rather they should do all in their power (and I trust their fellow-brethren and sisters throughout the East may share in their stupendous efforts) to provide for the steady and uninterrupted progress of the work, until the day may come when this sublime Edifice, raised in its majestic splendor in the very heart of the continent, may be yet another evidence of the triumph and vitality of the Cause.
Your reference to the friends in Akron, Ohio, and their harmonious participation in the proceedings of the Convention have rejoiced my heart, for it has removed another obstacle in the way of the rapid and vigorous development of the Cause in those regions.
The beneficent services and unremitting labors of that selfless and able teacher of the Cause of God, Jináb-i-Fádil-i-Mazandarání, the details of whose travels and activities I have followed with deep interest, have been to me a constant source of hope and real encouragement, and my hope is that the seeds he has so wisely sown may with your support yield in the not distant future an abundant harvest.
I was delighted to hear of the progressive activities of that dearly-beloved spot, Green Acre, upon which the Master has bestowed His tender care and loving-kindness, and of which we are all hopeful that it may become, while the work of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is in progress, the focal center of the devotional, humanitarian, social and spiritual activities of the Cause. The sacrifice of the time, energy and money made by our dearly beloved friends, Mr. and Mrs. Randall, Mr. and Mrs. Schopflocher, and those who have helped them in their task, I shall never forget, and will fervently pray on their behalf that our Beloved may fulfill their heart’s desire. I feel that no interference with its present organization should be attempted, as it enjoys in its present condition unique opportunities for the diffusion of the Bahá’í spirit and the promotion of the Word of God.
I am glad to report that the situation of the houses in Baghdád is free from immediate danger, though the issue has not yet been definitely determined. I wish in this respect to express my high admiration and deep gratitude for the promptness, caution, and care with which you, and particularly Mrs. Parsons and Mr. Mills, have approached and handled this delicate question. I shall inform you of any future developments in this matter.
With regard to the Star of the West, I have been impressed by the beauty and force of the various articles contributed to the Journal by Mr. Horace Holley and Mr. Stanwood Cobb, and would indeed welcome with genuine satisfaction an even more active participation on their part in the editorial section of the Bahá’í Magazine.
I have addressed a few days ago a cable to the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, requesting the friends to exercise restraint and caution in the use and distribution of the record of the Master’s voice. In my view, it should be used only on special occasions and be listened to with the utmost reverence. The dignity of the Cause, I am sure, would suffer from too wide and indiscriminate use of one of the most precious relics of our departed Master.
Regarding the short film of the Master, for which, as well as for the record of His voice, I am deeply indebted to the selfless efforts and services of my dear brother, Mr. Roy C. Wilhelm, it would be undoubtedly better to combine it with other films representing various scenes in the history of the Cause, taken in countries visited by the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá. As this would take considerable time and preparation and would entail much expense I wonder whether it would be an expense and burden to you to forward only to the Holy Land one copy of the actual film, as it would impart untold happiness and consolation to the bereaved ladies of the Holy Household.
I am gratified to peruse the able and masterly work of my dear fellow-worker, Mr. Horace Holley, a work1 which I have no doubt will by virtue of its subject matter, its comprehensiveness and uniqueness arouse widespread and genuine interest in the Movement. I am looking forward eagerly to similar productions by the pen of such able and gifted servants of Bahá’u’lláh.
I am enclosing for all the friends recent translations of those highly significant utterances of Bahá’u’lláh, revealed some fifty years ago, and pregnant with His divine wisdom. His ringing call to humanity in its hour of peril sounds prophetic in these days of utter gloom.
I am forwarding also a copy of the transliterated Oriental terms with few corrections of minor type errors. I am confident that the friends will not feel their energy and patience taxed by a scrupulous adherence to what is an authoritative and universal, though arbitrary code for the spelling of Oriental terms.
Committees of the National Assembly
The diligent efforts exerted by the various committees of the National Spiritual Assembly, those for National Teaching, for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the Star of the West, the National Library, for the reviewing and publication of Bahá’í literature, for education, for the National Archives and the Race Amity Conventions, have cheered and heartened me in the discharge of my manifold duties, and constitute in themselves a convincing evidence and inspiring example to the Bahá’í world of the efficient spiritual administration of the affairs of the Bahá’í world.
As to the spiritual activities of the “Children of the Kingdom” in America, my hope and prayer is that they may grow to become efficient servants of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. Their devotion and self-sacrifice, their readiness to help the cause of the Bahá’í Temple, their activity in connection with the Bahá’í Magazine are all unmistakable signs of the glorious future of the Cause in that land. May the care and loving-kindness of the Heavenly Father guide them, protect them and aid them in their future mission in life.
The Greatest Holy Leaf, the Holy Mother, and the other ladies of the Holy Household wish to join me, one and all, in expressing to every one of you their deep thankfulness and their highest appreciation for the efficient and admirable manner with which you are coordinating the dynamic forces of the Cause, and conducting its affairs throughout America.
The sum of 100 English pounds which you have offered to the Cause through me, I must acknowledge with deep appreciation and gratitude, and wish to inform you that a part of it has been directly expended for the furthering of the interests of the Cause throughout the world, and the rest for the embellishment of the Well-Beloved’s Shrine on Mount Carmel.
With deep gratitude, and hoping to hear from you, singly and collectively, I am your true brother,
To the members of the American National Spiritual Assembly.
On November 28th I received the following communication from the President of the National Spiritual Assembly of Great Britain:
“I have now to bring to your notice, though possibly you are already aware of it, a matter which is of the first importance in the opinion of the National Spiritual Assembly as you will see from one of the paragraphs of the enclosed minutes of its first meeting, which was held on October 13th. So far the programme of the conference on the ‘Living Religions within the British Empire’ is in a somewhat nebulous condition, but I have ascertained from Miss Sharples, the honorary secretary of the committee of organization, that the conference has been approved by the authorities of the British Empire Exhibition 1924 and will last for ten days, covering the last week of the month of September and the first three days of October. It is proposed that all religions taught and practiced throughout the British Empire shall be represented at the conference, including the Christians, Muhammadans, Buddhists, Brahma Somaj, Theosophists and others, and that each one in turn shall have at its disposal a day or part of a day for a meeting to expound its principles and deal with its organization and objects.”
In their last letter, the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Great Britain further informed me that the idea of the above-mentioned conference has originated with the Theosophical Society, but these having later dropped its management, the organization of the conference passed into the hands of the School of Oriental Studies and the Sociological Society. You will also note from the enclosed copy of a letter addressed by the same Miss Sharples to the President of the British National Spiritual Assembly that the time offered to the Bahá’í representatives will be very limited, and that most probably the allotted time will be just sufficient to read their papers or deliver their address and engage in the discussion that might arise after their formal presentation of the Cause.
As the British Empire Exhibition, of which this conference forms a part, is itself a semi-official undertaking, and receives actually the generous support and active participation of the government authorities throughout the British Empire, I feel that the opportunities now offered to the Bahá’í world should not be missed, as this chance, if properly utilized, might arouse and stimulate interest among the enlightened public.
As so much will depend upon the nature and general presentation of the theme, rather than upon the personality of the reader or speaker, I feel that, first and foremost, our attention should be concentrated on the choice and thorough preparation of the subject matter as well as on the proper drafting and the form of the paper itself, which might possibly have to be submitted afterwards to the authorities of the conference.
I feel the necessity of entrusting this highly important and delicate task to a special committee, to be appointed most carefully by the National Spiritual Assembly of America, and consisting of those who by their knowledge of the Cause, their experience in matters of publicity, and particularly by their power of expression and beauty of style will be qualified to produce a befitting statement on the unique history of the Movement as well as its lofty principles.
I am enclosing an article on the Bahá’í Movement which I trust might serve as a basis and example of the paper in question. An account of the most salient features of the history of the Cause, a brief but impressive reference to its many heroes and martyrs, a convincing and comprehensive presentation of its basic principles, and a characteristic survey of the Master’s life, as well as a short but graphic description of the present position and influence of the Movement both in the East and the West, should, in my opinion, be included and combined into one conclusive argument. Its length should not surpass that of the enclosed article, and its general tone, expression and language should be at once dignified, sober and forceful.
The greatest care and caution must be exercised in choosing those who can best provide and fulfill the above mentioned requisites and conditions.
I shall be most pleased to offer my views and suggestions once the paper has assumed its final shape, and wish you to obtain the assistance and advice of those whom you think able to judge amongst the friends in England and elsewhere.
Mr. Simpson, the President of the British National Spiritual Assembly, writes that Miss Grand from Canada has suggested the names of Dr. Watson and Mr. J. O. McCarthy of Toronto to represent the Canadian Bahá’ís. I would be pleased to receive your views as to who should represent Canada at the Conference. India is the only other country within the British Empire that can send a native Bahá’í representative to the conference, and it is rather unfortunate that the United States of America should have to be excluded, as the speakers at the conference must necessarily be subjects of the British Empire.
I am enclosing recent translations1 of the prophetic and most remarkable words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá which I trust you will all find of great value and interest in the great work you are doing for the Cause.
May this great project yield an abundant harvest for the Cause, and your efforts be richly blessed by the guiding Spirit of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá.
To the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout America.
I gather from various sources that the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, in the course of its sure yet toilsome march towards the salvation of the world, has encountered of late further obstacles, which in the eyes of some appear to retard its progress and hinder its growth. I have learned with feelings of sadness and surprise that some vague sense of apprehension, a strange misconception of its immediate purpose and methods, is slowly gaining ground, steadily affecting its wholesome growth and vigorous development throughout the continent.
Though such signs should appear from time to time, and however unrepresentative they be of the vast and growing mass of its convinced and zealous supporters, the world over, what, I wonder, could have caused this uneasiness of mind? Are such misgivings possible, though on the part of but a few, in the face of the remarkable manifestations of so remarkable a movement? To what extent do they form a part of those mental tests and trials destined at various times by the Almighty to stir and reinvigorate the body of His Cause, and how far are they traceable to our imperfect state of understanding, to our weaknesses and failings?
Divine Destiny and Human Frailty
That the Cause of God should, in the days to come, witness many a challenging hour and pass through critical stages in preparation for the glories of its promised ascendancy in the new world has been, time and again, undeniably affirmed by our departed Master, and is abundantly proved to us all by its heroic past and turbulent history. And yet, if it is the lot of the chosen ones of God, the people of Bahá, to face adversity and suffer tribulation before achieving ultimate victory, are we to believe that whatever befalls us is divinely ordained, and in no wise the result of our faint-heartedness and negligence?
Surely now, if ever, is the time to turn our eyes inwardly, to bestir ourselves, to invoke the Most Great Name, and standing together, summon to our aid and support all the faith, the strength, and the courage that we shall need to meet our pressing obligations and discharge our trust.
The plight of mankind, the condition and circumstances under which we live and labor are truly disheartening, and the darkness of prejudice and ill-will enough to chill the stoutest heart. Disillusion and dismay are invading the hearts of peoples and nations, and the hope and vision of a united and regenerated humanity is growing dimmer and dimmer every day. Time-honored institutions, cherished ideals, and sacred traditions are suffering in these days of bewildering change, from the effects of the gravest onslaught, and the precious fruit of centuries of patient and earnest labor is faced with peril. Passions, supposed to have been curbed and subdued, are now burning fiercer than ever before, and the voice of peace and good-will seems drowned amid unceasing convulsions and turmoil. What, let us ask ourselves, should be our attitude as we stand under the all-seeing eye of our vigilant Master, gazing at a sad spectacle so utterly remote from the spirit which He breathed into the world? Are we to follow in the wake of the wayward and the despairing? Are we to allow our vision of so unique, so enduring, so precious a Cause to be clouded by the stain and dust of worldly happenings, which, no matter how glittering and far-reaching in their immediate effects, are but the fleeting shadows of an imperfect world? Are we to be carried away by the flood of hollow and conflicting ideas, or are we to stand, unsubdued and unblemished, upon the everlasting rock of God’s Divine Instructions? Shall we not equip ourselves with a clear and full understanding of their purpose and implications for the age we live in, and with an unconquerable resolve arise to utilize them, intelligently and with scrupulous fidelity, for the enlightenment and the promotion of the good of all mankind?
Humanity, torn with dissension and burning with hate, is crying at this hour for a fuller measure of that love which is born of God, that love which in the last resort will prove the one solvent of its incalculable difficulties and problems. Is it not incumbent upon us, whose hearts are aglow with love for Him, to make still greater effort, to manifest that love in all its purity and power in our dealings with our fellow-men? May our love of our beloved Master, so ardent, so disinterested in all its aspects, find its true expression in love for our fellow-brethren and sisters in the faith as well as for all mankind. I assure you, dear friends, that progress in such matters as these is limitless and infinite, and that upon the extent of our achievements along this line will ultimately depend the success of our mission in life.
And as we make an effort to demonstrate that love to the world may we also clear our minds of any lingering trace of unhappy misunderstandings that might obscure our clear conception of the exact purpose and methods of this new world order, so challenging and complex, yet so consummate and wise. We are called upon by our beloved Master in His Will and Testament not only to adopt it unreservedly, but to unveil its merit to all the world. To attempt to estimate its full value, and grasp its exact significance after so short a time since its inception would be premature and presumptuous on our part. We must trust to time, and the guidance of God’s Universal House of Justice, to obtain a clearer and fuller understanding of its provisions and implications. But one word of warning must be uttered in this connection. Let us be on our guard lest we measure too strictly the Divine Plan with the standard of men. I am not prepared to state that it agrees in principle or in method with the prevailing notions now uppermost in men’s minds, nor that it should conform with those imperfect, precarious, and expedient measures feverishly resorted to by agitated humanity. Are we to doubt that the ways of God are not necessarily the ways of man? Is not faith but another word for implicit obedience, whole-hearted allegiance, uncompromising adherence to that which we believe is the revealed and express will of God, however perplexing it might first appear, however at variance with the shadowy views, the impotent doctrines, the crude theories, the idle imaginings, the fashionable conceptions of a transient and troublous age? If we are to falter or hesitate, if our love for Him should fail to direct us and keep us within His path, if we desert Divine and emphatic principles, what hope can we any more cherish for healing the ills and sicknesses of this world?
Pending the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, whose function it is to lay more definitely the broad lines that must guide the future activities and administration of the Movement, it is clearly our duty to strive to obtain as clear a view as possible of the manner in which to conduct the affairs of the Cause, and then arise with single-mindedness and determination to adopt and maintain it in all our activities and labors.
The Foundation of the House of Justice
The various Assemblies, local and national, constitute today the bedrock upon the strength of which the Universal House is in future to be firmly established and raised. Not until these function vigorously and harmoniously can the hope for the termination of this period of transition be realized. It devolves upon us whose dearest wish is to see the Cause enter upon that promised era of universal recognition and world achievements, to do all in our power to consolidate the foundations of these Assemblies, promoting at the same time a fuller understanding of their purpose and more harmonious cooperation for their maintenance and success.
Let us also remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom to declare his conscience and set forth his views. If certain instructions of the Master are today particularly emphasized and scrupulously adhered to, let us be sure that they are but provisional measures designed to guard and protect the Cause in its present state of infancy and growth until the day when this tender and precious plant shall have sufficiently grown to be able to withstand the unwisdom of its friends and the attacks of its enemies.
Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá’í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other.
Duties of Elected Representatives
The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. They must regard themselves in no other light but that of chosen instruments for a more efficient and dignified presentation of the Cause of God. They should never be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments of the body of the Cause, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and sole promoters of its teachings and principles. They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavor, by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candor, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity, to win, not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must, at all times, avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations. They should, within the limits of wise discretion, take the friends into their confidence, acquaint them with their plans, share with them their problems and anxieties, and seek their advice and counsel. And, when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority, which we are told by our Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced. To this voice the friends must heartily respond, and regard it as the only means that can insure the protection and advancement of the Cause.
Again I earnestly appeal to every one of you, and renew my only request with all the ardor of my conviction, to make, before and during the coming Convention, yet another effort, this time more spontaneous and selfless than before, and endeavor to approach your task—the election of your delegates, as well as your national and local representatives—with that purity of spirit that can alone obtain our Beloved’s most cherished desire. Let us recall His explicit and often-repeated assurances that every Assembly elected in that rarefied atmosphere of selflessness and detachment is, in truth, appointed of God, that its verdict is truly inspired, that one and all should submit to its decision unreservedly and with cheerfulness.
Let us first strive to fulfill these conditions, difficult yet essential, in our lives, so that, contented and assured, we may make of this new year of activity a year of abundant blessings, of unprecedented achievements.
May this dearest wish be fulfilled!
The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the Continent of America:
I return to the Holy Land with an overpowering sense of the gravity of the spiritual state of the Cause in the world. Much as I deplore the disturbing effect of my forced and repeated withdrawals from the field of service, I can unhesitatingly assure you that my last and momentous step was taken with extreme reluctance and only after mature and anxious reflection as to the best way to safeguard the interests of a precious Cause.
My prolonged absence, my utter inaction should not, however, be solely attributed to certain external manifestations of unharmony, of discontent and disloyalty—however paralysing their effect has been upon the continuance of my work—but also to my own unworthiness and to my imperfections and frailties.
I venture to request you to join me in yet another prayer, this time more ardent and universal than before, supplicating with one voice the gracious Master to overlook our weaknesses and failings, to make us worthier and braver children of His own.
Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.
Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching—no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character—not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and sceptical age the supreme claim of the Abhá Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh.
Looking back upon those sullen days of my retirement, bitter with feelings of anxiety and gloom, I can recall with appreciation and gratitude those unmistakable evidences of your affection and steadfast zeal which I have received from time to time, and which have served to relieve in no small measure the burden that weighed so heavily upon my heart.
I can well imagine the degree of uneasiness, nay of affliction, that must have agitated the mind and soul of every loving and loyal servant of the Beloved during these long months of suspense and distressing silence. But I assure you such remarkable solicitude as you have shown for the protection of His Cause, such tenacity of faith and unceasing activity as you have displayed for its promotion, cannot but in the end be abundantly rewarded by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, who from His station above is the sure witness of all that you have endured and suffered for Him.
And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centers of activity, upholding and promoting their interests with complete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding, genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigor. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountainhead from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must ultimately rest. May we not hope that now at last the dawn of a brighter day is breaking upon our beloved Cause?