Message from the National Spiritual Assembly to the Bahá’ís of Canada, 21 August 2017

Posted: 2017/08/24

To all believers in Canada

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

The film “Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience” opens with Bahá’u’lláh’s call: “O SON OF SPIRIT! With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore.” We then see a group of pilgrims slowly, solemnly approaching the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, tracing a path first trodden by the Holy Family. Those who have been on pilgrimage will be taken back to that sacred Spot and will call to mind the sounds, the fragrances, the eager anticipation of the heart upon that first visit to the Threshold.

The Universal House of Justice recently shared with National Spiritual Assemblies the joyful news that steps have been taken to make pilgrimage more accessible to a greater number and diversity of believers. The time between application for pilgrimage and being offered a range of dates has been shortened, and the waiting period before one can apply for another pilgrimage has been reduced from five to three years. Believers may now request permission for relatives or friends who are not registered members of the community to join them on pilgrimage. The full letter of the Universal House of Justice is attached for your interest, and the film referred to above is available for viewing on the home page of One may also obtain additional information and apply for pilgrimage on that site.

While Canada is not among the seventy countries who are participating in the group pilgrimage programme referred to in the 27 April 2017 letter, the National Spiritual Assembly was delighted to learn of the first neighbourhood pilgrimage group from Canada this year, from the Commercial Drive neighbourhood in Vancouver. The 12 friends who participated and the community around them found creative ways to provide the material means that were required. Might there be opportunities for groups of friends in many more neighbourhoods across the country to undertake this sacred journey together, and draw on its life-giving, transformative power in their service? How can many more friends from villages and rural areas of the country bring this light back to their regions?

While not of the same order as the daily gift of obligatory prayer, pilgrimage is an obligation “if one can afford it and is able to do so, and if no obstacle stands in one’s way”. The National Assembly will offer its prayers that such obstacles might be removed from the path of many more friends, to experience the blessings described by Shoghi Effendi: “Holy places are undoubtedly centres of the outpouring of Divine grace, because on entering the illumined sites associated with martyrs and holy souls, and by observing reverence, both physical and spiritual, one’s heart is moved with great tenderness.”

With loving Bahá’í greetings,
[signed: Karen McKye, Secretary]