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The Light of Divine Guidance (Volume 1)

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Germany (Bahá’í-Verlag), 1982 edition
  • Pages:
  • 311
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Pages 261-270

Letter of 21 June 1956

21 June 1956
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Your letters of August 8 and 18, September 9, October 4, November 8, 9 and 13, one undated, received December 18, 1955; and January 27, one dated January, February 7, 24 and 28, April 21, May 5, and 31, with enclosures, and also material sent under separate cover have all been received by the beloved Guardian, and he has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
He has been very encouraged during the last year over the increased activity on the part of the German Bahá’ís, as witnessed by the teaching conferences they have held at different times and in different places; and the growth of new Centers in Austria more or less as a direct outcome of the devoted pioneer efforts of members of the German Bahá’í Community. This fulfills a long-cherished wish of 262 his, and was a source of great satisfaction. He hopes that the Groups in Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg will attain Assembly status by next Riḍván, thus giving the Austrian Community a much firmer foundation and preparing it for the day when it will have its independent National Assembly, a day which is not so very far off after all, and towards which they must work constantly, with ever increasing zeal and dedication.
He was also very happy to hear that the Vienna Community has settled down in its Hazíratu’l-Quds, its future national headquarters building; and that this is not only a center for the Bahá’ís, but, what is even more important, a center for their teaching activities on a larger and more impressive scale in that city.
As he already informed you before, he felt that the generous contribution of dear Mrs. Collins towards the purchase of a national endowment for Austria should be used for that purpose only, and not diverted to anything to do with the furnishing or embellishing of the Hazíratu’l-Quds.
He hopes that the presence of a devoted American Bahá’í, Mrs. Edna Johnson Norvell in Austria will be of help to the friends. She is most eager to serve and assist them in every way she can.
It has been recently a great pleasure for the Guardian to receive here as his guests four of the pioneers to Athens. This contact has been most welcome, and he feels that your Assembly can be proud of these fine young people, who are making every effort to achieve the goals set for the German Bahá’ís in Greece.
He has also had the great pleasure of receiving here the first German Bahá’í since before the war; namely, Miss Weber, one of the pioneers to Crete. 263
He hopes that the German Bahá’í Community will make every effort to send forth a greater number of pioneers to the countries which have been made their particular responsibility under the World Crusade, and also to reinforce the work in Austria. They must never forget that one of the first “pioneers”, before the days when that term was even in use, was dear Mr. Benke, who sacrificed his life in the service of the Faith with such an exemplary spirit of devotion that the Guardian felt impelled to call him the first European martyr for the Faith. This was a great distinction and blessing conferred on the German Bahá’ís, and should stimulate many others to follow in his footsteps.
The Guardian is very sorry that there has been so much delay as regards the Temple in Frankfurt, both because of the difficulty of obtaining permission to build on the site chosen, and the difficulty in coming to a decision about the design.
He feels that, as this is the Mother Temple of Europe, and an institution which will be supported by contributions from Bahá’ís all over the world, that it has a very great importance; and must under all circumstances be dignified, and not represent an extremist point of view in architecture. No one knows how the styles of the present day may be judged two or three generations from now; but the Bahá’ís cannot afford to build a second Temple if the one that they built at the present time should seem too extreme and unsuitable at a future date.
In view of this, he has pondered very carefully over the designs which were submitted to him, and also consulted Mr. Remey. He hopes to come to a decision, and will inform your Assembly accordingly.
He appreciated very much the cooperative spirit shown by many of the German architects and their offer to come 264 here and consult with him. This would have been impractical, and a waste of the money of the Faith; but, if your Assembly has occasion, he would like it to please thank these gentlemen for their friendly and cooperative spirit as regards our Temple.
He feels that the National Hazíratu’l-Quds in Frankfurt should act as the Secretariat of the National Assembly as well. This is the main reason why the Bahá’ís have National Headquarters—so that the office of the National Spiritual Assembly can operate from the National Assembly’s permanent address. It may not be convenient at times, but it is essential that this should be done. He has informed other national bodies of the same thing, that is, those who had not already placed their Secretariat in their Hazíratu’l-Quds.
He feels that your Assembly should particularly concentrate at this time on accelerating the work on the home front. Perhaps the most difficult objective for any of the National Assemblies to accomplish is the one of increasing the number of Assemblies and Centers under their jurisdiction before the end of the Ten Year Plan. The friends must realize that this, by its very nature, is a task which it is dangerous to postpone to the latter years of the Plan. The construction of Assemblies is always a laborious process, and one which demands a great deal of preparation and forethought and time to achieve. Therefore, the sooner the believers go out into the field, and assist, through settlement or through extension teaching, or travelling teaching trips, or in whatever way they can, in laying the foundation for these new Assemblies, the better.
He hopes that the Bahá’í youth in Germany will be encouraged to take a more active part in administrative affairs and in the teaching work. They must always realize that they are the future of the Cause, and they should gain 265 from experience as teachers and administrators from the older friends, in preparation for the time when the burden of the work will fall on their shoulders.
The news of the publication work you have in hand was also encouraging; and he hopes that, when you receive your Reparations from the proper civil authorities there, you will be able to put the new Bahá’í Publishing Trust on a firm foundation, and get out more literature, which is the very backbone of the teaching work.
You may be sure that he often remembers you in his prayers in the holy Shrines; and he deeply appreciates the consecrated spirit with which you are serving the interests of the Faith in Germany and Austria, and in the virgin territories allotted to your care. He hopes that the national work can be arranged in such a way that too great a burden does not fall on the Hands of the Cause, who already have another important function to discharge, and yet who are needed because of their capacities for the National Assembly work as well.
He was very sorry to hear of the illness of some of the members who are so needed in the teaching work in Germany, and he hopes and prays that they are now fully recovered.
The good news that your National Convention was held so successfully pleased him very much; and he was also happy to see that a young and comparatively new Bahá’í has been added to your Body. This will no doubt be of assistance to the work of the Assembly.
He was also happy to see that you have been able to add another incorporation, in such an important city as Frankfurt, the national seat…. 266
P.S. Mr. Ioas recently wrote your Assembly that the Guardian does not feel it would serve any useful purpose to reconsider Temple designs with Prof. Grund; please thank him for his helpfulness and fine spirit.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The progress achieved in recent years, and particularly since the inception of the Ten-Year Plan, by both the German and Austrian Bahá’í communities, in the field of teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá’í activity, has been such as to evoke feelings of deep and abiding gratitude in my heart, and to excite the admiration of their sister communities in both the East and the West.
Emerging more than a decade ago, from a prolonged period of adversity, which served to purge, discipline and spiritually quicken the nations to which these communities belong; abundantly demonstrating, throughout the afflictive trial they underwent, the sterling qualities of their faith and the depth of their unalterable devotion to the Cause they have espoused; firmly reestablishing, on the morrow of that ordeal, the institutions of an Administrative Order which had been temporarily disrupted and suffered an eclipse during the years of repression, suffering and confusion; embarking, at a later period, and in concert with Bahá’í communities the world over, on the Ten-Year Plan, designed to carry them a stage further on the road leading them to their high destiny—the members of these communities are now, both individually and collectively, fully engaged in the discharge of their sacred and heavy responsibilities—responsibilities which they cannot shirk and which I feel confident, they will nobly and fully discharge. 267
The third phase of the Plan which they now have entered must witness such an acceleration in the tempo of Bahá’í activity, in the various fields assigned to them, and such a depth of consecration to the tasks they have shouldered, as shall throw into shade every evidence of the valour displayed during the infancy of the Faith in both of these countries.
The virgin territories alloted to your assembly, under the Ten-Year Plan, must be carefully watched over, and the prizes won in those fields must be constantly enriched, at whatever cost, through the dispatch of a larger number of pioneers and a more adequate provision for the needs, both material and spiritual, of those valiant souls who, by the very nature of their services, constitute the vanguard of the future army of Bahá’u’lláh which must, in the days to come be raised up in those territories. The homefront, the reservoir which must be constantly replenished if the aid given to these pioneers is to prove ultimately adequate and effective, must be made the object of the solicitude and of the anxious deliberations of the members of your Assembly. The remarkable success recently achieved, through the multiplication of Bahá’í assemblies, groups and isolated centres, must be followed up by a corresponding increase in the number of the avowed and active supporters of the Faith—the bedrock on which the strength and stability of the entire community must rest. The preliminary stages designed to launch the greatest enterprise confronting the German Bahá’í Community—the construction of the Mother Temple of Europe—must be swiftly and energetically undertaken, particularly in connexion with the ultimate settlement of the issue of the Temple site, and the provision of the necessary authorization for the laying of its foundations and the erection of its structure. 268
Another matter of vital importance, and destined to exert a lasting influence on the immediate destinies of the German Bahá’í Community, is the adoption of the necessary measures for the introduction of the Faith into neighbouring territories, such as the translation of Bahá’í literature into Russian and into the languages in use in the Baltic states, and the exploration of every avenue designed to enable German Bahá’í pioneers to launch this vast, this historic and meritorious campaign beyond the eastern confines of their native land.
The process of incorporating firmly established Bahá’í local assemblies, which has so far been regrettably slow, must be further stimulated, in order to consolidate the legal foundations of the administrative structure of the Faith in that land as well as in Austria.
The institution of the National Fund, whose fundamental importance cannot be exaggerated, must receive a wider and fuller measure of support from the rank and file of the believers, in order that it may be enabled to provide more adequately than heretofore for the pressing material needs of the infant institutions of the Faith, now faced with such tremendous and inescapable responsibilities.
Particular attention must, moreover, be devoted to the vital and urgent needs of the Faith in Austria, where a nascent community is heroically struggling to establish its independent national Bahá’í existence on a secure foundation.
Constant encouragement, by whatever means possible, must, furthermore, be given the suppressed and isolated local communities in Eastern Germany, now so sadly detached from the general body of the followers of the Faith in that land, and any assistance, lying in your power, must 269 be extended to them for the purpose of enabling some of their members to penetrate into the remaining territories assigned to your assembly under the provisions of the Ten-Year Plan.
The stalwart German Bahá’í Community, ranking among the oldest and certainly one of the most eminent, communities in Europe; firmly implanted in the heart of that continent; constituting one of the leading strongholds of the Faith within its confines; reassured, time and again, through the glowing promises given it, in unmistakable language, by the Centre of the Covenant, in the early years of that community’s existence; blessed so abundantly through His memorable visit to its homeland; hardened and chastened in the school of adversity; emerging triumphant over those adversaries that sought so ineffectively to arrest its march, dim its hopes, and disrupt its foundations; fully equipped through more than three decades of Bahá’í administrative experience—such a community finds itself, at this historic hour, fully and hopefully launched upon an enterprise which, if successfully carried out, will enable it to bring to a conclusion a chapter of the utmost significance in the evolution of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in that land.
Aware of its manifold responsibilities, determined to fulfill the dearest hopes cherished for it by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, conscious of its inherent strength, and encouraged by its multiple and heartwarming accomplishments, this community, in conjunction with its younger sister, must redouble its efforts to scale loftier heights, to plumb greater depths of dedication, to evince a still nobler heroism, and to heighten, by its accomplishments, and, above all, by a still more convincing demonstration of the spirit animating its members, the feelings of admiration which I myself, as well as the believers in other lands, hold them, in consequence of 270 their mighty endeavours and unforgettable exploits in the service, and for the Cause, of Bahá’u’lláh.
May His Spirit ever shine upon, and warm, their hearts. May His precepts ever guide their footsteps, and may His unfailing grace, vouchsafed from the realms on high, be poured forth upon them in such abundance as to enable them to achieve, in the years immediately ahead, total and complete victory.
Your true brother,