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News

Montreal, September 13, 2018 – The Montreal Bahá’í Community was delighted to welcome Cliff Huxtable, a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh, from St. Helena Island where he and his late wife Catherine have been settled for last fifty two years. This remote volcanic island, is located in South Atlantic Ocean.  It is one of the most remote islands in the world, and was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. It was an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa for centuries. St. Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometers (10 by 5 miles) and has a population of 4,534 (2016 census). It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

At a college freshman dance, Cliff Huxtable spotted a lovely young lady sitting across the room. Approaching her to ask for a dance, he saw to his dismay that she sat in a wheelchair. Unsure what to do next, he cut in on a fellow-student who was dancing with one of the lady’s friends. "Come over and meet her,” the friend invited. “She is just like everyone else." The young lady was Catherine Heward, confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. Doctors had given her twenty years to live.

Despite her physical limitations and waning strength Catherine developed into a self-reliant young woman of diversified interests. She attracted to her a widening circle of friends who accompanied her to concerts, ballets, theaters, art galleries, and lectures. She became a gifted writer and an accomplished artist in needlepoint. Against all odds, she and Clifford Huxtable got married in 1955, embraced the Bahá’í Faith in 1951, travelled the world during Shoghi Effendi’s great Bahá’í pioneering project of the Ten-Year Crusade, adopted a teenager and have a son, all before Catherine’s death at the age of thirty-five. 

Both Catherine and I were born in 1932, said Cliff, met each other in 1950, joined the Bahá’í Faith in John and Audrey Robarts’ living room, Forest Hill Village, Toronto, served on the Spiritual Assembly of Toronto and then pioneered to Regina end of 1957 – 1959. They continued their services to the Faith and settled in the virgin territory of Canada’s Gulf Islands, tucked inside Vancouver Island, in autumn 1959 – autumn 1965 combined with alternative trips to Anticosti which had proved untenable then, followed by a farewell tour of Bahá’í Communities from Victoria to Montreal.

When the call for pioneers in the Nine-Year Plan was raised in 1965, again the hearts of Catherine and Clifford Huxtable were touched. They volunteered to settle on the lonely volcanic island of St. Helena, final prison and resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. Arrived on April 1966 where there was only one Bahá’í. On October 25, 1967, just nineteen months after arriving at St. Helena, Catherine passed away. "The end came suddenly after only one day of discomfort," Clifford said. "Her last words were an earnest but not anguished payer, 'I want to die.'"

Quite some time after Catherine passed on, Cliff said, he was surprised to learn that he and Catherine had been both named Knights of Bahá’u’lláh for the Gulf Islands.  Cliff is still living in St. Helena, married to a St. Helenian lady and both serving on its tenuous Spiritual Assembly! There are now nineteen Bahá’ís on the island!

Cliff is in Montreal for two weeks to encourage the area Bahá’í friends to consider wintering in lovely St. Helena, befriending its ‘Saints’ and strengthening our bonds with them.  Then he goes to Bromont for a weekend family reunion of 60 relatives from all over North America before returning to his special island by September 29. (He had spent his childhood summers with his grandparents, uncles and aunts in their Eastern Township homes.) 

For information about St. Helena: http://www.sthelenabahai.org

Montreal, September 12, 2018 – Twenty-two students from Kyoto Imperial University of Japan are, at the moment, visiting Montreal as part of their continuing studies to learn about Canadian Culture and languages. The group of four who study Religious Diversity visited the Montreal Bahá’í Shrine accompanied by their tutor. The visit included a presentation about the Faith, Maxwell family and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sojourn in Montreal as well as a short history of the Faith in Japan. Numerous questions were asked about the Faith and the relationship of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with Maxwell family. Questions were also asked about the Administrative System of the Faith and the non-partisan election in the Bahá’í World Community. A gift of literature and relevant information was offered to the students.

The McGill School of Continuing Studies has an international reputation as a leader in continuing education. The instructors are dynamic and engaged, the student body, smart and diverse, bringing with them a wide range of experience from all walks of life. There are over 150 countries represented at McGill University, the most international student body in Canada.

The number of students at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies is 15 000! Career Advancement and Professional Development, Language Learning, Translation and Written Communication, Personal Growth and Lifelong Learning as well as arts, religious diversity and indigenous studies are included in the program.

Kyoto Imperial University in Japan was founded by imperial ordinance on 18 June 1897, the second university to be established in Japan. It has been in partnership with six universities in Canada and with McGill in particular since 2014. One of Asia’s leading research-oriented institutions, Kyoto University is famed for producing world-class researchers, including 17 Nobel Prize laureates, 2 Fields medalists and one Gauss Prize winner.

The Bahá'í Faith in Japan begins after a few mentions of the country by `Abdu'l-Bahá first in 1875. Japanese contact with the religion came from the West when Kanichi Yamamoto was living in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1902 accepted the Faith; the second being Saichiro Fujita. Fujita would serve between the World Wars, first in the household of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá and then of Shoghi Effendi. In 1932, the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Tokyo. In all of Japan there were 19 Bahá'ís then. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 15 650 Japanese Bahá'ís in 2005 while the CIA World Fact book estimated about 12 000 in 2006.

Montreal, July 10, 2018 - The Bahá'í Community of the Island of Montreal was present at a solemn commemoration at the Bahá'í Center on Pine Avenue East. Children, youths, adults, talented musicians, even nature in the form of beautiful roses that decorated the hall; together, commemorated this tragic event occurred in the history of humanity. It took place on July 10, 1850 in a military barracks in Tabriz, a city in northwestern Iran.

A youth of 30 years old, a direct descendant of Muhammad's lineage, carrying a new message of peace and brotherhood of humanity, was tried as an offender of Islamic theology. He proclaimed that He was the Promised one of Islam, the One who should appear at the end of time! The clergy found Him a threat to the church and state. They imprisoned him, persecuted him and finally sentenced him to death. Those among the clergy who had a clear vision and sincerely awaited this miraculous period of history accepted Him without any hesitation. A surprising number of over 400, of the most learned in the country; not only accepted his Message but, almost all, gave their lives for his Cause.

This young man bore the name of the Báb (1819 - 1850), the Door of Knowledge of God, a Saint John the Baptist of Christendom, the Qá'im of Islam, the Herald of the Bahá'í Faith and a Divine Messenger!

During His imprisoned in the fortress of Máh-Ku in northwestern Iran, only one European had a meeting with the Báb. He was Dr. Cormick, an English physician residing in Tabríz who was summoned by the Persian authorities to decide on the Báb’s mental state.
 
“… He only deigned to answer me, writes Dr. Cormick, when I told Him that I was not a Musulman and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the Shah at that time was of a nature to spare his life…

He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much. Being a Siyyid, he was dressed in the habit of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact, his whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in his favour. Of his doctrine, I heard nothing from his own lips, although the idea was that there existed in his religion a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters, who were sent to make some repairs in his prison, reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it. Most assuredly the Musulman fanaticism does not exist in his religion, as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists."
 
The Báb and one of his disciples were hung by ropes against the wall of a military barracks, and a regiment of seven hundred and fifty Christian Armenian soldiers was brought in to form the firing squad. The colonel of the regiment, a certain Sám Khán, was reluctant to execute the received order, fearing that it would draw the wrath of God on his head. It is said that the Báb gave him the following assurance: "Follow your instructions and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity."

Many eyewitnesses testified as follows: The regiment was set up and seven hundred and fifty shots fired. The smoke produced by the muskets, which were filled through the front barrel, obscured the place. When it dissipated, the astonished spectators saw the companion of the Báb standing unharmed in front of the wall; the Báb was gone! The ropes on which the two men were hung had been cut by bullets. A frenzied search ensued and the Báb, still unharmed, was found in the room he had occupied the night before. He was calmly giving his last instructions to his secretary.

The crowd was out of control, and the Armenian regiment refused to participate again in this execution. The colonel of the regiment was threatened by the real possibility that the moody crowd, who had first acclaimed and denounced the Báb, saw in the deliverance of the latter a sign of God and rose for His support. A regiment of Muslims was hastily formed, the Báb and his companion hung once more along the wall, and a second volley was fired at them. This time the bodies of the two prisoners were riddled with bullets.

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the death of the Báb aroused a new wave of interest in his Message. The story spread like wildfire, not only among the Persians, but also among the diplomats, merchants, military advisers and journalists who constituted a substantial European community in Persia at that time. The words of a French consular diplomat, A.L.M. Nicolas, give an idea of the impact that this drama had in Persia on educated Westerners:

"It is one of the most magnificent examples of courage ever given to humanity to contemplate, and it is also an admirable proof of the love that our hero bore to his fellow-citizens. He sacrificed himself for humanity; for her he gave his body and soul; for her he suffered privations, insults, torture and martyrdom. He sealed with his blood the pact of universal brotherhood and, like Jesus, he gave his life as a ransom for the announcement of the reign of concord, equity and love of neighbor.
"

Montreal, Septembre 10, 2018 - It was a rainy day that day in 1912 but `Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure for Toronto (en route to Buffalo) was already arranged. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s diarist Mahmoud was asked to take personal charge of his luggage. When, instead, the hotel staff took his luggage, Mahmoud was chastised, for `Abdu’l-Bahá’s luggage contained valuable documents and writings that he intended to present to the “libraries of London and Paris.” At the Grand Trunk Railway station, the chief custom inspector and his assistants cleared the luggage without any inspection, stating that they had no reason to inspect the luggage of the Bahá’ís. When the Master was told this, His face opened up like a rose and He expounded on the stations of truthfulness and trustworthiness, which are the sources of the prosperity and assurance of the people of the world

The influence of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit spread beyond the approximately 2500 people in Montreal who heard him speak or had direct personal contact with him. Some 440 000 readers of Montreal’s lively press, in English and in French, also became aware of his visit and teachings.

Among the excitement of the many Bahá’ís and others who had gathered to see him off, at Grand Trunk Railway train (now the Canadian Pacific Railway), the “International Limited,” pulled out of Bonaventure Station at 9:05 am. The Grand Trunk “Moccasin” engine was probably assigned to this run, taking `Abdu’l-Bahá to Toronto. While the Montreal Bahá’ís numbered fourteen souls, the believers were now strong in Faith and more stead fast than before.

It is astonishing to see that `Abdu'l-Bahá does not want any comfort and will not take any rest, even while traveling on the train. When translations of the newspaper articles and letters from the friends were read to Him, He immediately answered and bestowed His bounties upon them. To some He wrote in His own hand. When He was tired of writing, the Master spoke about the coming of Christ from the heaven of holiness: The Gospel expressly records that in His first coming, although Christ was born to Mary, He Himself said that He came from heaven. Thus, the meaning of `heaven' is the greatness of the Cause and eminence and might of the Manifestation of God Who spreads this divine Cause by His heavenly power and divine strength and not through material means.

The train route taking `Abdu’l-Bahá from Montreal to Toronto, and then to Niagara Falls and Buffalo in the United States, passed villages and towns that were home to individuals who would soon thereafter declare their belief in the new revelation: Farran’s Point, Brockville, Belleville, Toronto, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catherines and Niagara falls. 

On this trip to Oshawa, Ontario, a 4-year-old First Nation child was sitting on a fence watching the train go by. He saw a man wearing a long, elegant white coat waving at him. He was so upset that he lost his balance and fell, but he never forgot what he saw that day. In 1948, thirty-six years later, Jim Loft, the first Native believer in Canada, accepted the Bahá'í faith and he remembered this incident when he saw the picture of 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the first time.

Those nine days which `Abdu’l-Bahá spent in Montreal are, for Canada, among the most significant in our country’s life, because we still have the opportunity to act upon what he said then and to build a country and a world worthy of his words and Baha’u’llah’s vision. When `Abdu'l-Baha left Montreal, he said,

"The time of the sojourn was limited to a number of days, but the results in the future are inexhaustible."

Today, we can only marvel at the example and inspiration of 'Abdu'l-Bahá who chose to include the city of Montreal in His busy itinerary, and the wisdom and efficiency of His decision to accomplish this journey despite His advanced age and His failing physical condition, for the sake of fifteen believers who, before 1912, had taken the initiative to go to the prison-city of 'Akká, thus exposing themselves to all dangers. Only the power of His presence in this world could inspire them to realize what would become the goal of their lives.

 

Photos : Bonaventure Central Station 1912 -  Jim Loft, First Bahá'í believer from First Nations - Bahá'í Group in Montreal circa 1912

Montreal, July 6, 2018 – "The Divine Plan" was the subject of a workshop presented to the “Frères de la Consolata” Mission by a friend of the Montreal Bahá'í Community. For a decade, this group of brothers have been doing a series of studies to get acquainted with other religious groups throughout Montreal and this workshop was the continuation of their exploration. The first meeting with a member of this group took place at the Salon du livre de Montréal in November 2002 and we have been working together since then.

During this half-day presentation, the views of scientists, sociologists as well as the Bahá'í perspective were examined. The participants were pleasantly surprised that the “Divine Plan … is at variance with the shadowy views, the impotent doctrines, the crude theories, the idle imaginings, the fashionable conceptions of a transient and troublous age.”!*

Historian and professor at the Department of History of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yuval Noah Harari insists that the capacity of a human being gives him the opportunity to "become a god."!  At the same time, he asks himself the question: "Is there anything more dangerous than unsatisfied and irresponsible gods who do not know what they want? "

On the other hand, the Bahá'í Writings prove "... that the world of existence stands in utmost need of an educator, and that its education must be achieved through a celestial power. There is no doubt that this celestial power is divine revelation, and that the world must be educated through this power which transcends human power."*

The concept of the knowledge of God as suggested by Albert Einstein - "Explain to me first what do you mean by God and I will tell you if I believe it”, has been examined. The group came to the conclusion that the quotation from Bahá'u'lláh, "God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute …"* is the most complete of the other suggested definitions!

Since the definition of a plan is "an orderly sequence of operations intended to achieve a goal," we concluded that the Divine Plan must have a purpose. Bahá'u'lláh says, " The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. "*

“…One must search after truth, become enraptured and enthralled with any sanctified soul in whom one finds it, and become wholly attracted to the outpouring grace of God. Like a moth, one must be a lover of the light, in whatever lamp it may shine; and like a nightingale, one must be enamoured of the rose, in whatever bower it may bloom.”*

The Frères present were unanimous that the "Divine Plan" is a perpetual process that changes from age to age according to the need of time. That only the Divine Messengers have the capacity and the power to lead human beings to this common goal of unity and peace. That this process is continuous, progressive, evolving and in accordance with the needs of the time we live.

The Institute of Missionaries of the Consolata was founded in Turin in 1901 by Fr Joseph Allamano with an essentially missionary purpose. For him, evangelization included the promotion of people and societies. This Catholic religious community comprises about 1,000 brothers, 1,000 sisters and about a hundred secular collaborators who are actively involved in socio-economic micro-projects, especially in developing countries.

The photo shows the motor-ambulance drivers of Notre Dame de la Consolata hospital in Neisu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Equipment and medications are the contributions of Canadian organizations.

*Source :Bahá’í Writings

Portrait de 'Abdu'l-Bahá par Juliet TomsonMontreal, August 31, 2018 - After five months in the United States the Master was coming to Montreal, despite His friends' forebodings, and late on the night of August 30, 1912, the Maxwells and Louise Bosch met His train from Boston. He went directly to their home, for four days lavishing His presence before moving to the Hotel Windsor. The columns of the Montreal Daily Star had for a week been heralding this great event, and during those memorable days the best publicity of His American stay, He said, ensured a permanent record of His words. In hours of grave concern to Canada, of threatening conflict and burdensome armaments, the predictions of this "Apostle of Peace . . . (of) An Appalling War" were headlined to the city.

May Maxwell’s share was strenuous in this historic sojourn, for she made the major part of His arrangements. He accorded her immortal praise in the Tablet to Canada. “He found that through the effort of the maidservant of God, Mrs. Maxwell a number of the sons and daughters of the Kingdom in that Dominion, were gathered together and associated with each other, increasing this joyous exhilaration day by day. The time of sojourn was limited to a number of days, but the results in the future are inexhaustible.”

While there were at the time only about fourteen Bahá’ís living in Montréal, such abbreviations in numbers did not deter the Master in His praise both of the city, itself, and the potentials He found within those souls that impressed Him, beginning with that of May Maxwell:

“When a farmer comes into the possession of a virgin soil, in a short time he will bring under cultivation a large field. Therefore I hope that in the future Montreal may become so stirred, that the melody of the Kingdom may travel to all parts of the world from that Dominion and the breaths of the Holy Spirit may spread from that center to the East and the West of America…”

In her journal of the Master’s stay in Montreal, May Maxwell wrote, in a poetic phrase, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived on the evening of August 30, 1912 at her home, on the flank of Mount Royal, under “the full brightness of a summer moon.” He came on the train from Boston and arrived late. The Master was met eagerly at the Windsor train station on Peel Street at 8:00 p.m. by Sutherland Maxwell with two carriages. (Scheduled to arrive at 8:40 pm but it apparently arrived towards midnight). ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was accompanied on this occasion by only two members from his retinue: Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, who chronicled the Master’s visit to North America and his interpreter, Ahmad Sohrab.

Maxwell HomeThe believers and their friends living in Montreal had well prepared the ground for the Master’s arrival. In fact, their advanced preparation may be taken as an example of efficient media and public relations. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at 716 Pine Avenue West (later 1548) on the evening of August 30th, He was met by a group of friends and reporters that included John Lewis, editor of the Montreal Daily Star. It is likely that editor Lewis was a Bahá’í because in Amine De Mille’s eye-witness account of the visit, he is included in the list of names of “first servants to arise through the teaching of Sutherland and May Maxwell” and mentioned among “these earliest friends of the Faith in Montreal.”

The considerable publicity and the magnetic, irresistible personality  of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá brought such a flow of inquirers to 716 Pine Avenue West that the Maxwell home could not accommodate them all.

In 1912 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was 68 years old, and his was a "commanding presence," we are told. Time and again we read that people coming into his presence for the first time left describing feelings of awe at the meeting. At the same time he seemed "intensely approachable." He had, after all, approved an advertisement in The Montreal Star which gave the Maxwell’s telephone number (Uptown 3015) and urged "any Montrealers who want to make an appointment with him" to do so.

Windsor Train Station This brief visit to Montreal was to accomplish exactly what ‘Abdu'l-Bahá had hoped. It gave the few scattered individuals in Canada who called themselves Bahá’ís an awareness of themselves as a “community,” and gave them as well a better understanding of the Faith. His visit attracted a lot of attention, particularly in Montreal, where more than 2,500 people heard him on nine days and where all the newspapers English and French reported extensively on his visit and his views

Abdu’l-Bahá gave eight public addresses and seven informal presentations, totalling fifteen, for which six transcripts are extant. This does not include newspaper articles, private interviews and the pilgrim’s notes recorded in Mahmúd’s Diary. Three talks were given in the Maxwell home and two in the churches.

Photos : Portrait of 'Abdu'l-Bahá painted by Juliet Thompson 1912, House of William and May Maxwell where the Master stayed, Windsor Train Station - The arrival point of 'Abdul-Bahá to Montreal

Montreal, May 24, 2018 – In a packed synagogue of several hundred members of Jewish Community, guests, members of Canadian Parliament and Ministers of Government, the Message of Unity of Humankind, declared by Bahá’u’lláh, was proclaimed.

The occasion was the Celebration of 70th year of existence of the State of Israel and the services that this nation has rendered to the Global Community. The Public Affairs of Montreal and Norman Simon's Canadians for Coexistence in co-operation with Congregation Shomrim Laboker presented an evening of civil society celebrating the civilization of Israel. The participants and presenters included diplomats, elected officials from all levels of government, journalists, social activists, businessmen and cultural and faith community leaders. It was a once in a generation gathering of best and brightest speaking from the heart on what the example of Israel has meant to them. Among the speakers there were:
-       Israeli Consul General David Levy
-       US Consul Robert Dhalke
-       Romanian Consul General Ioana Costache
-       The Hon. David Kilgour, PC, former Secretary of State for Central Europe and the Middle East
-       The Hon. Maxime Bernier,PC, MP, former Minister of Foreign Affairs
-       The Hon. Kathleen Weil, MNA, Minister responsible for relations with Anglophone Quebecers
-       Sen.Leo Housakos, former Speaker of the Senate
-       The Hon. Gerry Weiner, PC, former Minister of Immigration
-       David Birnbaum, MNA and Parliamentary Assistant to Premier Couillard
-       Marvin Rotrand, Dean of Montreal City Council
-       Mary Deros, City Council member and former Deputy Mayor of Montreal

The two members of External Affairs of the Bahá’í Community of Montreal presented the historic relationship of the Faith with Israel starting with the following famous quote of Bahá’u’lláh addressed to Professor Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University in April 1890:
"… That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled — what harm is there in this? … Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come.… Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."

It was mentioned that Bahá’u’lláh who was expelled to the Holy Land through “successive banishments, culminating in His exile to the Turkish penal colony of Acre in Israel, and His subsequent death, and burial in its vicinity…” – therefore the Bahá’í Faith joined Judaism, Christianity and Islam which for centuries have recognized the Holy Land as sacred.

In 1891, Baha’u’llah designated Mount Carmel as the site for the world headquarters of His Faith. He also directed that the remains of the Báb, the Herald of the Faith and a Prophet in His own right, be buried on Mount Carmel. (1819-1850).

In 1892 Baha’u’llah passed away in a mansion on the outskirts of Akko and was buried nearby, His Shrine thereby becoming the most holy place on earth for Baha’is.

In 1953, the golden-domed, white marble superstructure was erected over the mausoleum of the Báb, completing the Shrine that is the second holiest place for Bahá'ís.

Over the years, Bahá'ís have built a series of gardens, encompassing other holy monuments, as well as other administrative buildings in the Haifa/ Acre area. All are funded entirely by contributions from the worldwide Bahá'í community.

Two years after the end of World War 2, the British Mandate was coming to an end and the newly born United Nations appointed a special committee on Palestine to look at the future of the land. In response to an inquiry by the committee’s chairman as to the religious interest of the Bahá’ís, some unique characteristics of the Faith’s position in the Holy Land was brought to their attention.

It is in the soil of this land “that the three central Figures of our religion are buried”, referring to Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and to Baha’u’llah’s son, Abdu’l-Baha. The Holy land “is not only the centre of Bahá’í pilgrimages from all over the world but also the permanent seat of its Administrative Order.”

The controversial topic of the future political status of the Holy Land was addressed as follows: “Our aim is the establishment of universal peace in this world and our desire to see justice prevail in every domain of human society, including the domain of politics.

As many of the adherents of our Faith are of Jewish and Moslem extraction we have no prejudice towards either of these groups and are most anxious to reconcile them for their mutual benefit and for the good of the country.”

The Baha’is are grateful that the government of Israel acknowledged and permanently safeguarded the independence of the Faith, its right to manage its international affairs from that area, and the right of Bahá’ís from every country to visit it as pilgrims.

“It must be remembered that the only oriental notable of any standing whatsoever who had not fled from Palestine before the War of Independence was Shoghi Effendi, the Head of the Bahá’í Faith in 1948. This fact was not lost upon the authorities of the new State [of Israel],”
“One of [the Jewish independence movement’s] first acts when the World War was still going on, had been to place a notice on the Shrine of Baha’u’llah – much more isolated than the Shrines in Haifa – stating that it was a Lieu Saint or ‘Holy Place’, thus ensuring that it would be treated with respect by all Jews.”
 
The Baha’i World Centre, with some 700-volunteer staff from around the world, is a symbol of the unity of humanity, and provides an example of how people of diverse national and religious backgrounds can come together in harmony and work for the peace and prosperity of the world.

The city of Haifa and the government of Israel have welcomed the Bahá'í presence and the beautification on the Mt Carmel. The former Mayor of Haifa, Amram Mitzna, wrote that the completed Gardens and Terraces for the Shrine of the Báb offer "unforgettably stunning panorama" for the "appreciation of all beauty lovers."

Several speakers including Israeli Consul General David Levy, referred to the presence of the Bahá’ís in the Holy Land and acknowledged its contribution to peace and harmony in Israel.

At the reception which followed, Norman Simon who was the principle organizer of the event, received an information kit about the Bahá’í Faith. Many interfaith representatives welcomed the Bahá’ís and invited them to their future events

Montreal, July 30, 2018 – There is a home in NDG area which is a haven of peace for anyone who knocks at its door! This beautiful location hosted a fascinating couple, Roger and Doris Rasmussen of Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute, Eloy, AZ. who travelled all the way to come and visit the Bahá’í Communities of East Coast of Canada! They brought with themselves a gift of sharing the stories of early believers of the United States and Canada through a dramatic reading.

The characters which we had the pleasure to withhold through the first part of the presentation were none other than an outstanding couple - Howard Colby Ives and his beloved wife, Mabel Rice-Wray Ives – who met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America in 1912. They were both ardent and devoted teachers of the Faith until the last breath of their lives. Howard has recorded the experience of his encounter with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in his well-known book “Portals to Freedom” which is incidentally translated into several languages.

Mabel Ives was an accomplished teacher of the Faith for many years even after her husband passed away and she was bedridden for ten days before she too joined her remarkable spouse in 1943.

The roles were played by Roger and Doris Rasmussen who portrayed Howard and Mable splendidly! They had few cute little props of their own to emphasis the dramatic beauty of those outstanding lives which was well appreciated by some fifty members of audience.

In a cable addressed to the United States Community, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith Shoghi-Effendi, eulogizes Mable Ives as: “self-sacrificing, distinguished teacher of the Faith…outstanding, memorable and highly meritorious services…” she rendered to the Cause of God.

Howard was a Unitarian Minister and he met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time in 1912 in New York. The Master saw him, singled him out of all the c

rowd, beckoned to him and Howard felt a breeze from a Divine morning had touched his brow! He devoted his life to teach the Faith until his passing to the World beyond in 1941, exactly two years before his wife Mable passed away.

The dramatic presentation then followed by questions and discussion about the early believers in Canada and the role they played in community building and expansion of the Faith.
Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute began in 1988 in Tucson with the four-day Desert Rose Bahá’í School initiated by Hand of the Cause of God William Sears and his wife, Marguerite, along with a core group of dedicated friends. When Mr. Sears passed away in 1992, Marguerite continued Desert Rose Bahá’í School and expand the four-day school into a permanent Institute. Land near Eloy, Arizona, was purchased in 1996. Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute, Inc. is a non-profit corporation created in 1997.

 

Howard Colby Ives (1867 - 1941)
Mabel Rice-Wray Ives (1878-1943)

Montreal, May 24, 2018 - Some 150 friends and members of the Montreal community gathered at the Bahá’í Center to celebrate the anniversary of the mission of the Báb, the Herald of the Faith. This event, which took place in a modest house in Shiráz 174 years ago, denotes the beginning of the Bahá’í Era and the New Era in World Civilization. Special prayers accompanied by music and historical texts about the events of the Báb's Declaration were presented by the Bahá'í friends of Heart of the East, Montreal, with the help of the children and youth of the community.

 The Bahá’í era dates from May 23, 1844 when, in the Iranian City of Shiraz, the Báb declared His mission. On that occasion, He spoke these words to Mulla Husayn, the first person to recognize that mission: "Verily I say, I am the Báb, the Gate of God.... This night, this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals."

Bahá’u’lláh refers to the Báb as ‘My former manifestation’. Following his declaration, the Báb sent Mulla Husayn to Teheran to seek out Baha’u’llah, who instantly accepted the Bab’s message, and summoned all those around him to do the same. Thus from the earliest days of the Baha’i Faith the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh were united in spirit.

We can better understand the meaning of this Baha’i holy day, characterized as this ‘greatest and most significant of all festivals’ if we reflect on how, since that period, the world has utterly changed. Baha’is believe that the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh released a creative energy that is transforming everything about human life.

Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. This new life is apparent in such things as the explosion of human knowledge, in steps that reflect a growing consciousness of the oneness of the human family, the establishment of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, world-wide undertakings to improve agriculture and hygiene, and medical care, efforts to elevate international standards and laws, and a recognition of the need to advance the status of women and girls.

Beginnings are always special – a wedding, the birth of a baby, the appearance of some wonderful new invention or process. How much more special, then, is the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb, which was the moment of birth for a new religious community. Now a community of approximately 5 million established throughout the world, Baha’is work hand in hand with other communities, well-wishers, partners and collaborators to fulfill the promises of the Bab and Baha’u’llah that will see humanity living together in peace and prosperity.

Montreal, July 29, 2018 – A group of young people from Waterloo community, Ontario, was in Montreal for a three day visit specifically the historic sites associated with the visit ‘Abdu'l-Bahá’s sojourn in this city in 1912.

They were welcomed warmly at the reception centre of the Shrine and, after going through the history of the place and its significance for the Bahá'ís, they continued their visit to the Shrine itself; the former home of Montreal architect Sutherland Maxwell. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son and successor of Bahá'u'lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, arrived in Montreal on August 30, 1912 for an initial five-day visit. Force of circumstance, after giving a speech at the Saint James Methodist Church on September 5th, he caught cold which forced him to delay his departure, perhaps an inconvenience for the Master, but a blessing for Montreal.

During this period, he only went to the Maxwell’s home. However, even His health condition did not stop those who wanted to visit him at Windsor Hotel. Nevertheless, as his initial itinerary had already been announced in the newspapers, the frequency of visits decreased somewhat, some believing he had already left. Despite his health, he went to the Maxwell’s home later that day. The weather was cooler and pleasant during that period.

May Maxwell later told her daughter that 'Abdu'l-Bahá said during His stay in their home: “Here, is my home”. She described her guest as someone “serene and calm”, but during the nine days He spent in Montreal, 'Abdu'l-Bahá actually seems to have constantly given talks, interviews, received guests, or visited those He thought were ready to hear His message.

The youth group continued their visit first to Cathedral Mary Queen of the World and then to Windsor Hotel where 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His entourage had stayed for six days. This majestic hotel of the time on Peel Avenue was ravaged by fire in 1957 and the part of the structure where 'Abdu'l-Bahá had probably stayed was destroyed. Today, the CIBC tower replaces the old structure of the hotel but the annex still exists in its original architectural form as it was in the time of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.

It is interesting to know that the Master stayed at the hotel at the same time as Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, who was returning from a successful trip to Britain. The year 1912 marked almost a century of peace between Great Britain and the United States. Following a parade of about two kilometers, with fireworks and fanfares, the prime minister moved to Windsor Hotel. There is no indication that 'Abdu'l-Bahá met him, either accidentally or at one of the sumptuous reception at the hotel given for the prime minister, but it is remarkable that these two personalities stayed at the same hotel at the same time.
The visit to historical sites was completed around 5 pm and the youth continued the day with NDG friends at the Kent Park picnic.

 

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