All praise be unto God, Who hath revealed the law of obligatory prayer as a reminder to His servants, and enjoined on them the Fast that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute.(Bahá’u’lláh)
Ayyam-i-Há is coming this weekend, and with it, a time of charity, generosity and giving, a time to think of others around us and share our wealth – and also a time for preparing ourselves spiritually for the Fast. Briefly, Bahá’ís from the ages of 15 to 70 years abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise ’til sunset during the nineteen days between March 2nd and March 20th, culminating in Naw-Ruz (the Bahá’í new year) on March 21st.
I’ve posted up sunrise/sunset times for this year’s Fast in Ottawa. Feel free to bookmark it (if, of course, you’ll be observing the Fast in Ottawa). You can also get sunrise/sunset times for your own city by visiting the Fast calculator at BCCA.
For those of you who missed last Sunday’s reflection meeting: Ottawa, our favourite “A-cluster”, has launched its first “intensive programme of growth”. What’s that? It’s a city-wide campaign to open up the Bahá’í community to the people around us through personal invitation to the core activities of the Faith – devotional meetings, children’s classes and study circles. It’s an inclusive, welcoming kind of contact which will hopefully bring each person one step closer to the healing, vivifying and transforming power of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh.
Every so often, you might hear Bahá’ís talking about “teaching the Bahá’í Faith”. Bahá’ís, far from being insular or cliqueish, must, as an integral part of their spiritual life, teach others about their Faith. Our own spiritual growth depends on it. We’re forbidden to coerce or otherwise proselytize – that means we can’t make a person become Bahá’í against that person’s better judgement, nor can we use any form of manipulation. We must present the Message of Bahá’u’lláh clearly, to the best of our ability, detached from the results; and the person who receives it is free to accept or reject it. If they accept it, that’s their choice. If they reject it, that’s their choice too. Each individual must investigate the truth for him or herself, Bahá’u’lláh says – it’s a sacred right and a responsibility, too.
So if you’re wondering what Bahá’ís mean when they talk about teaching, that’s it. Feel free to tease us about it. We love it.
On a side note: I hate fax machines. (I just had to say that.)
Friend, n. 1. One who entertains for another such sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection that he seeks his society and welfare; a wellwisher; an intimate associate; sometimes, an attendant. (Webster’s 1913 Dictionary)
One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task.(Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
Welcome to the -10 Celsius world of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and Winterlude is wrapping up soon. Have you been out to see the festivities yet? There are ice and snow sculptures, skating on the Rideau Canal, street performers, and so on. Ottawa is buzzing, but it’ll be over on the 20th – so this is your last chance to see it before it closes!
A few dates to circle on your calendar:
February 20th – Ottawa’s Cluster Reflection Meeting. This is gonna be a big one because the whole city is going to be embarking on a collective teaching campaign, focused around enlarging our community of interest. We especially need youth and junior youth to be involved with this project – because as we all know, youth are the ones who will change the world! We need you with us during this exciting time. By participating, you will be helping to drive the growth of the Bahá’í community and to transform the way we live. Make your mark!
March 2nd-March 20th – The Bahá’í Fast. A spiritual time full of blessings, confirmations, prayer and nearness to God. Coming soon: a blog post about the Fast, with sunrise and sunset times and related information.
Selfish, adj. 1. Caring supremely or unduly for one’s self; regarding one’s own comfort, advantage, etc., in disregard, or at the expense, of those of others. Selfless, adj. 1. Having no regard to self; unselfish. (Webster’s 1913 Dictionary)
Today the nations of the world are self-engaged, occupied with mortal and transitory accomplishments, consumed by the fires of passion and self. Self is dominant; enmity and animosity prevail. Nations and peoples are thinking only of their worldly interests and outcomes. The clash of war and din of strife are heard among them. But the friends of the Blessed Perfection have no thoughts save the thoughts of heaven and the love of God. Therefore, you must without delay employ your powers in spreading the effulgent glow of the love of God and so order your lives that you may be known and seen as examples of its radiance. You must deal with all in loving-kindness in order that this precious seed entrusted to your planting may continue to grow and bring forth its perfect fruit. The love and mercy of God will accomplish this through you if you have love in your own heart.(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 8)