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The Promised Day Is Come

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 revised edition
  • Pages:
  • 124
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Pages 100-105

His Messages to Christian Leaders

A glance at the writings of the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation will reveal the important and significant fact that He Who addressed collectively an immortal message to all the kings of the earth, Who revealed a Tablet to each of the outstanding crowned heads of Europe and Asia, Who issued His call to the sacerdotal leaders of Islám, both Sunní and Shí’ih, Who did not exclude from His purview the Jews and the Zoroastrians, has, apart from His numerous and repeated exhortations and warnings to the entire Christian world, directed particular messages, some general, others precise and challenging, to the heads, as well as to the rank and file, of the ecclesiastical orders of Christendom—its pope, its kings, its patriarchs, its archbishops, its bishops, its priests, and its monks. We have already, in connection with the messages of Bahá’u’lláh to the crowned heads of the world, considered certain features of the Tablet to the Roman Pontiff, as well as the words written to the kings of Christendom. Let us now turn our attention to those passages in which the aristocracy of the church and its ordained servants are singled out for exhortation and admonition by the Pen of Bahá’u’lláh: 101
“Say: O concourse of patriarchs! He Whom ye were promised in the Tablets is come. Fear God, and follow not the vain imaginings of the superstitious. Lay aside the things ye possess, and take fast hold of the Tablet of God by His sovereign power. Better is this for you than all your possessions. Unto this testifieth every understanding heart, and every man of insight. Pride ye yourselves on My Name, and yet shut yourselves out as by a veil from Me? This indeed is a strange thing!”
“Say: O concourse of archbishops! He Who is the Lord of all men hath appeared. In the plain of guidance He calleth mankind, whilst ye are numbered with the dead! Great is the blessedness of him who is stirred by the Breeze of God, and hath arisen from amongst the dead in this perspicuous Name.”
“Say: O concourse of bishops! Trembling hath seized all the kindreds of the earth, and He Who is the Everlasting Father calleth aloud between earth and heaven. Blessed the ear that hath heard, and the eye that hath seen, and the heart that hath turned unto Him Who is the Point of Adoration of all who are in the heavens and all who are on earth.” “O concourse of bishops! Ye are the stars of the heaven of My knowledge. My mercy desireth not that ye should fall upon the earth. My justice, however, declareth: ‘This is that which the Son [Jesus] hath decreed.’ And whatsoever hath proceeded out of His blameless, His truthspeaking, trustworthy mouth, can never be altered. The bells, verily, peal out My Name, and lament over Me, but My spirit rejoiceth with evident gladness. The body of the Loved One yearneth for the cross, and His head is eager for the spear, in the path of the All-Merciful. The ascendancy of the oppressor can in no wise deter Him from His purpose.” And again: “The stars of the heaven of knowledge have fallen, they that adduce the proofs they possess in order to demonstrate the truth of My Cause, and who make mention of God in My Name. When I came unto them, in My majesty, however, they turned aside from Me. They, verily, are of the fallen. This is what the Spirit [Jesus] prophesied when He came with the truth, and the Jewish doctors caviled at Him, until they committed what made the Holy Spirit to lament, and the eyes of such as enjoy near access to God to weep.”
“Say: O concourse of priests! Leave the bells, and come forth, then, from your churches. It behooveth you, in this day, to proclaim aloud the Most Great Name among the nations. Prefer ye to be silent, whilst every stone and every tree shouteth aloud: ‘The Lord is come in His great 102 glory!’?… He that summoneth men in My name is, verily, of Me, and he will show forth that which is beyond the power of all that are on earth. …Let the Breeze of God awaken you. Verily, it hath wafted over the world. Well is it with him that hath discovered the fragrance thereof and been accounted among the well-assured.” And again: “O concourse of priests! The Day of Reckoning hath appeared, the Day whereon He Who was in heaven hath come. He, verily, is the One Whom ye were promised in the Books of God, the Holy, the Almighty, the All-Praised. How long will ye wander in the wilderness of heedlessness and superstition? Turn with your hearts in the direction of your Lord, the Forgiving, the Generous.”
“Say: O concourse of monks! Seclude not yourselves in churches and cloisters. Come forth by My leave, and occupy yourselves with that which will profit your souls and the souls of men. Thus biddeth you the King of the Day of Reckoning. Seclude yourselves in the stronghold of My love. This, verily, is a befitting seclusion, were ye of them that perceive it. He that shutteth himself up in a house is indeed as one dead. It behooveth man to show forth that which will profit all created things, and he that bringeth forth no fruit is fit for fire. Thus counseleth you your Lord, and He, verily, is the Almighty, the All-Bounteous. Enter ye into wedlock, that after you someone may fill your place. We have forbidden you perfidious acts, and not that which will demonstrate fidelity. Have ye clung to the standards fixed by your own selves, and cast the standards of God behind your backs? Fear God, and be not of the foolish. But for man, who would make mention of Me on My earth, and how could My attributes and My name have been revealed? Ponder ye, and be not of them that are veiled and fast asleep. He that wedded not [Jesus] found no place wherein to dwell or lay His head, by reason of that which the hands of the treacherous had wrought. His sanctity consisteth not in that which ye believe or fancy, but rather in the things We possess. Ask, that ye may apprehend His station which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth. Blessed are they who perceive it.” And again: “O concourse of monks! If ye choose to follow Me, I will make you heirs of My Kingdom; and if ye transgress against Me, I will, in My long-suffering, endure it patiently, and I, verily, am the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Merciful. …Bethlehem is astir with the Breeze of God. We hear her voice saying: ‘O Most Generous Lord! Where is Thy great glory established? 103 The sweet savors of Thy presence have quickened me, after I had melted in my separation from Thee. Praised be Thou in that Thou hast raised the veils, and come with power in evident glory.’ We called unto her from behind the Tabernacle of Majesty and Grandeur: ‘O Bethlehem! This Light hath risen in the orient, and traveled towards the occident, until it reached thee in the evening of its life. Tell Me then: Do the sons recognize the Father, and acknowledge Him, or do they deny Him, even as the people aforetime denied Him [Jesus]?’ Whereupon she cried out saying: ‘Thou art, in truth, the All-Knowing, the Best-Informed.” And again: “Consider, likewise, how numerous at this time are the monks who have secluded themselves in their churches, in My name, and who, when the appointed time came, and We unveiled to them Our beauty, failed to recognize Me, notwithstanding that they call upon Me at dawn and at eventide.” “Read ye the Evangel,” He again addresses them, “and yet refuse to acknowledge the All-Glorious Lord? This indeed beseemeth you not, O concourse of learned men!… The fragrances of the All-Merciful have wafted over all creation. Happy the man that hath forsaken his desires, and taken fast hold of guidance.”
These “fallen stars” of the firmament of Christendom, these “thick clouds” that have obscured the radiance of the true Faith of God, these princes of the Church that have failed to acknowledge the sovereignty of the “King of kings,” these deluded ministers of the Son who have shunned and ignored the promised Kingdom which the “Everlasting Father” has brought down from heaven, and is now establishing upon earth—these are experiencing, in this “Day of Reckoning,” a crisis, not indeed as critical as that which the Islamic sacerdotal order, the inveterate enemies of the Faith, has had to face, but one which is no less widespread and significant. “Power hath been seized” indeed, and is being increasingly seized, from these ecclesiastics that speak in the name, and yet are so far away from the spirit, of the Faith they profess.
We have only to look around us, as we survey the fortunes of Christian ecclesiastical orders, to appreciate the steady deterioration of their influence, the decline of their power, the damage to their prestige, the flouting of their authority, the dwindling of their congregations, the relaxation of their discipline, the restriction of their press, the timidity of their leaders, the confusion in their ranks, the progressive confiscation of their properties, the surrender of some of their most powerful strongholds, 104 and the extinction of other ancient and cherished institutions. Indeed, ever since the Divine summons was issued, and the invitation extended, and the warning sounded, and the condemnation pronounced, this process, that may be said to have been initiated with the collapse of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff, soon after the Tablet to the Pope had been revealed, has been operating with increasing momentum, menacing the very basis on which the entire order is resting. Aided by the forces which the Communist movement has unloosed, reinforced by the political consequences of the last war, accelerated by the excessive, the blind, the intolerant, and militant nationalism which is now convulsing the nations, and stimulated by the rising tide of materialism, irreligion, and paganism, this process is not only tending to subvert ecclesiastical institutions, but appears to be leading to the rapid dechristianization of the masses in many Christian countries.
I shall content myself with the enumeration of certain outstanding manifestations of this force which is increasingly invading the domain, and assailing the firmest ramparts, of one of the leading religious systems of mankind. The virtual extinction of the temporal power of the most preeminent ruler in Christendom immediately after the creation of the Kingdom of Italy; the wave of anticlericalism that swept over France after the collapse of the Napoleonic empire, and which culminated in the complete separation of the Catholic Church from the state, in the laicization of the Third Republic, in the secularization of education, and in the suppression and dispersal of religious orders; the swift and sudden rise of that “religious irreligion,” that bold, conscious, and organized assault launched in Soviet Russia against the Greek Orthodox Church, that precipitated the disestablishment of the state religion, that massacred a vast number of its members originally numbering above a hundred million souls, that pulled down, closed, or converted into museums, theatres and warehouses, thousands upon thousands of churches, monasteries, synagogues and mosques, that stripped the church of its six and a half million acres of property, and sought, through its League of Militant Atheists and the promulgation of a “five-year plan of godlessness,” to loosen from its foundations the religious life of the masses; the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy that dissolved, by one stroke, the most powerful 105 unit which owed its allegiance to, and supported through its resources the administration of, the Church of Rome; the divorce of the Spanish state from that same Church, and the overthrow of the monarchy, the champion of Catholic Christendom; the nationalistic philosophy, the parent of an unbridled and obsolete nationalism, which, having dethroned Islám, has indirectly assaulted the front line of the Christian church in non-Christian lands, and is dealing such heavy blows to Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian Missions in Persia, Turkey, and the Far East; the revolutionary movement that brought in its wake the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico; and finally the gospel of modern paganism, unconcealed, aggressive, and unrelenting, which, in the years preceding the present turmoil, and increasingly since its outbreak, has swept over the continent of Europe, invading the citadels, and sowing confusion in the hearts of the supporters, of the Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, and the Lutheran churches, in Austria, Poland, the Baltic and Scandinavian states, and more recently in Western Europe, the home and center of the most powerful hierarchies of Christendom.