Do You Need a Change of Heart?
Ada P. de
Mondino, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Desert travelers sometimes see beautiful castles, large cities and even great expanses of water. They see these things as long as they stand in one place, as long as they don't move. But as they travel towards them, these wonders disappear, because in reality they were never there. They were only mirages, optical illusions.
All through human life we seem to be influenced by mirages, illusions of one sort or another. As mirages in the desert are optical phenomena, mirages in human life are mental phenomena; happiness, security, and love are often perceived to be where they are not. But after running from one mirage to another, like weary and frustrated travelers, people have the right to ask themselves: Why are my hopes never realized? Why do those I look to for my happiness fail me? Why doesn't my work give me real security and satisfaction even though I am holding a good position? Why am I not loved? These questions help us to turn to a more real and spiritually substantial way to live our lives. They reveal the faulty thinking that leads us on to disappointment over and over again. The trouble may be a mistaken "get what you can out of life'' concept, or a strong and selfish ambition to realize what we consider is the peak of our human aspiration. Our undisciplined desires, hopes, and affections impel our thought and action. They're often what motivate us for living.
Divine Love Is Our Starting Point
The word ''motive'' is an interesting one. It comes from the same root as the words "motor," "motion," and "movement." An automobile can't run without a motor. We all have a mental motor constituted of our motives. We take good care of the motor of our car to be sure it won't get us into trouble while driving. How much more attention we should give our mental motor or motives, so they won't get us into trouble in our experience. That is, so we won't be driven toward mirages, but toward reality.
Christian Science shows us there is only one right motivation, divine Love. When our "motor'' or motivation is divine Love, then we learn to love to a degree as God loves and we are able to see reality.
How does Christian Science define God?
We learn in Christian Science that God is the divine, creative Principle of the universe and man. This divine Principle expresses itself through giving. It gives all the good: life, harmony, beauty, which are manifested through the spiritual universe and spiritual man. This divine action of giving is Love, divine Love.
But what is this Love like? Not like human love, selfish and limited, including both good and evil, virtues and defects. God's love is perfect, and since it is perfect there is no evil in it. Divine Love is spiritual good in action. And this action constitutes the spiritual universe and man. This is the only reality there is. Whatever departs from this pure, perfect spiritual action of divine Love is a mirage. We can affirm that this is true because we can prove it in our experience.
A Change of Motive to Spiritual Love Brings Healing
For example, a woman I know needed help in Christian Science through prayer. She was very frightened because of a recurring chest pain; besides, she couldn't make any physical effort without feeling tired.
Starting from the fact that the only reality is the expression of God, the spiritual universe and man, she knew that matter, pain, and weakness were not included in the expression of good, were not included in the reality. So, if these had come to her experience she needed to have a better concept of what reality is. What was she accepting as real? She saw she had been accepting inharmony as real; her relationship with her husband wasn't harmonious. And she had been accepting this situation for years! They had been very happy during the first years of their marriage, when they had no children. But her husband's attitude had completely changed after the children were born.
For some unknown reason, he now seemed to live only for his children; she felt left out of his love. Disappointment, frustration, and despair filled her heart. Of course, she also loved the children, but she didn't see why they should be an obstacle to harmony. They could be excellent parents and at the same time enjoy a happy marriage. She said she had even thought about getting a divorce. But she realized she didn't have the right to deprive her children of such a good father. So she decided to go ahead. Her strong support during all those years had been the Bible verse: "Thy Maker is thine husband."1 She managed the best she could, but didn't feel they were making any progress.
Some time later they needed to take a long trip. This seemed to her a good opportunity to try to restore their happiness. But to her surprise her husband was terribly excited about the idea of taking the children with them. And so they did. She felt her heart was broken. Including the children wasn't according to her plans, desires, and hopes. One night, during the trip, she felt an excruciating chest pain and could hardly breathe. She prayed as she had learned to do in Christian Science, affirming that since God is good, He never made pain. Little by little the pain disappeared, and she went to sleep. As it was late at night, nobody noticed her discomfort. But when she returned home she realized she hadn't yet overcome the trouble. The sharp pain recurred every once in a while − and there were other symptoms associated with heart trouble, too. So she decided it was time for her to go to the root of the problem as she had learned to do in Christian Science.
She looked up the definition of "heart" in the Christian Science textbook, Science and. Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. Here the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science defines "heart" as: "Mortal feelings, motives, affections, joys, and sorrows."2
My friend began to review very earnestly and impartially her feelings, motives and affections. This was about the time of the first heart-transplant operations; and she soon recognized that the only real and necessary transplant of heart was the transformation of her feelings, motives and affections from a personal, selfish point of view to a higher and spiritual point of view, in order that her motives be not self-centered, but God-centered.
She consecrated more time to study and prayer, and was struck by a sentence in Science and Health: "Christian Science reveals Truth and Love as the motive-powers of man."3 Here "Truth" and "Love" are written with a capital because these are two names used in Christian Science as synonyms for God. And we also have the word "motive-power" that is, what impels, what produces movement. When she read that "Truth and Love are the motive-powers of man," my friend remembered that in the first chapter of Genesis it says, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."4 Then she began to reason: God created man in His own image; but God is not limited, He does not have a material form because He is infinite Spirit. So man made in the image of God has to be spiritual. This is the man motivated by Truth and Love. And according to the first chapter of Genesis "male and female created he them." So this is the reality! She had to look to this reality, not to the mirage; she had to acknowledge in herself and in her husband the real nature of man and woman as entirely spiritual, motivated by Truth and Love. She said that at that point of her experience her strongest desire was to love; this was her goal. She put aside her search for personal happiness in her marriage; she humbly asked God to teach her to love. She found support in the "scientific response" Mrs. Eddy hoped church members would make to "the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I?", "I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing."5 She decided that from this moment on her rock of salvation and the reason of her being would be "to impart truth, health, and happiness." But she realized she could not impart truth while looking at mirages. She could not impart health while feeling sick nor happiness unless she was happy.
She changed her heart by elevating her feelings, motives, and affections. As she looked to the real man, spiritual man, made in God's likeness, the false, sickly sense of herself disappeared, and reality appeared: bitterness was replaced with joy, stress with calm. She was happy as never before because she was able to see in herself and in her husband all the good they had always been manifesting, but that she hadn't perceived, because she had been chasing the mirages of human happiness.
My friend was astonished at the results: she and her husband were actually living a sound, friendly, tender relationship. He was communicative not only with her and the children, but even his friends noticed a change in his character. He was happier, more talkative and friendly. And his activity and career were growing beautifully and making steady progress.
What had happened? Just what is happening right now, actually the only thing going on everywhere, spiritual good, divine Love-motivated action, already present.
This divine action gave my friend a change of heart.
This woman and her husband realized that their unity and happiness weren't subject to disturbance, like a fluctuating mirage, but are as eternal as God's reality. And, by the way, she never again had a return of heart trouble.
God Always Knows Man as Spiritual and Loving
How can you and I bring to our experience the blessings of divine Love? By letting our life be the very action of this Love, as my friend did. She stopped looking at herself as a material being and began to love herself as what she really is: God's perfect spiritual image and likeness. This enabled her to love her husband, not as a material personality, but as what he really is: God's perfect spiritual image and likeness. In other words, she obeyed Jesus' commandment: "Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself."6 That is, love in yourself the spiritual perfection and integrity you reflect as God's child, and then you'll be able to see and love this same perfection and integrity in your neighbor, no matter what the mirage is, be it anger, sickness or poverty. This spiritual love, good in action, is an all-powerful, gentle energy that makes the distortion disappear. Spiritual love helps us discern between human love and divine Love.
How can we know whether the love we are expressing is human or divine? Through the results it brings. Divine Love always promotes the unfolding of spiritual good in ourselves and in others. It makes us feel more freedom, security, and peace. This is the appearing of spiritual good in human consciousness. But if the love we are expressing makes us or others feel dependent, or hinders in some way the unfoldment of our spiritual nature, then it isn't divine, but a human sense of love, undependable and temporary. To reach a more consistent and divine expression of love, we really need the change of heart that purifies our motives, and leads us toward God, Spirit.
Compassion Is Fundamental
What are the means through which we can express divine Love, spiritual good in action? There are many ways to express it, but three of them are fundamental: compassion, humility, and gratitude. We'll speak first about compassion. Let's turn to the most compassionate man who ever existed − Christ Jesus. His sublime compassion is exemplified by his words at the cross: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."7 I have been surprised to notice how often the Bible says, "and Jesus, moved with compassion." These words are almost always followed by healings, by needs met, by a new beginning. Jesus' compassion was based on his knowledge that the real man, made in God's likeness, is spiritual, perfect, eternal. He knew divine Truth, he knew divine Love. God motivated all his thoughts, all his actions. Christ Jesus' life was good in action knocking at the door of human consciousness and saying, "God's man can never be wicked, sick, or discordant. Love your true being and be free." This was Jesus' compassion. It enabled him to realize that sin is a mistaken state of thought and action. That's why he never condemned sinners personally, but helped them find the way out of their mistakes.
So Jesus' compassion wasn't simply a warm human feeling. It was an active healing power that overcame sickness and sin − and even raised the dead. This is the compassion he taught to be one of the essential motives of a man's life. When we feel this healing compassion for our neighbors, husbands, wives, in-laws, and employers, wonderful things begin to happen: better relationships, new friendships, a sense of belonging together. When we feel this healing compassion for our government, for other countries' governments, for all mankind, with no exception of nationality, race, or religion, then we are helping the world become better.
And we all are able to express this compassion, because we are the expression of spiritual good, the expression of divine Love. Nothing can resist the power of divine Love. Love makes all delusion, mirage, or distortion disappear − and then we see things as they are. When we do, we're experiencing the action of divine Love in our consciousness.
My husband once had an experience that proved this. He had to pick up a package of films sent by airmail from another country. When he got to the customs office, he had to wait in line. He noticed the attendant's manner was harsh. He gave impolite answers to the questions people asked him. He shouted and protested against everything and everybody. When my husband's turn arrived, the employee was quite rough with him.
Finally he said the official folder concerning the films was lost and, even if they found it, it would take two months to get the film released from customs. He at once turned his back, sat down again at his desk, and went on with his bad-tempered grumbling.
My husband hadn't even had an occasion to open his mouth. He stood aside in a quiet corner and asked himself what to do. Then in a flash he remembered the title of one of the films he had come to pick up: "But What Can I Do?" And the answer came to him, You can pray!
Then he looked up and saw a sign in front of him which read, "Distribution Office.'' This inspired him. He realized we all have a mental distribution center − our consciousness. So he could use his distribution center, his consciousness of divine Love, in order to avoid accepting and circulating the deceiving and false feelings he'd just seen in action. He could have a change of heart, and so could that man.
He prayed to be able to do this − to know the man God knows, the expression of divine Love. And the expression of divine Love can never be harsh, irritated, or ill-humored. Rather, it's kind and courteous, considerate, solicitous of others, helpful. This was the only man to know and love, the perfect image and likeness of God, Spirit.
Some minutes later the attendant, who had been grumping all the time, suddenly smiled. He called kindly to my husband and said, "I now remember where the folder is." And he took it out of one of two high piles of folders in front of him. Twenty minutes later the films were in my husband's hands.
When my husband made his way back out to the street, he passed by the attendant's office. He saw him smiling and good-humored. My husband had seen that true loving, true compassion, makes discordant and inharmonious mirages disappear and lets harmony appear. Through Christian Science we can reach this practical change of heart.
Our Model for Living: Christly Humility
The second quality we need to develop is humility. Again, a distinction is to be made between true humility and a false sense of humility.
A woman once asked me to help her through prayer because her financial situation was desperate. After telling me all her difficulties, she added, "All I've always asked God is to be healthy and have a piece of bread on my table; I want nothing more." I smiled at her and asked, "What are you complaining about? This is exactly what you have now!"
This woman had a wrong concept of what true humility is. Even in her prayers she was believing she was a poor little mortal who didn't deserve to live in abundance. She was looking at the mirage, a false picture of herself, and not at reality. The result was a false sense of humility.
True humility helps us joyfully say to ourselves: "I have the right to enjoy the fulness of spiritual good since I am God's beloved son. I am able to express all the spiritual qualities more and more. And I know that all good possibilities are open to me through my expression of spiritual good."
But how can we become humble?
We all remember that Jesus was once asked who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and that he answered, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."8 Become as little children, is there anyone more humble than a little child? And yet, what confidence, tenderness, and joy a child expresses.
Jesus once said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not."9 What did he mean by "me"? Was he referring to the human Jesus? If so, his words would have no present value; they would have been valid for his time only. Yet he also said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."10
When Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," he was not just drawing them to his humanity, but to his spiritual identity, the only self he recognized − God's perfect model of manhood, that is, the Christ. Jesus was the man who most perceived and manifested the nature and character of the Christ. And he devoted his whole life to showing how the Christ can elevate and improve mankind. The Christ is as eternal as God. It's an active spiritual power in human consciousness. We can say that the Christ is the message from God to human consciousness and Jesus was the messenger who brought it to mankind. Mrs. Eddy speaks of the Christ this way: "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness."11 It was the supreme love Jesus had for the Christ which made him love others as no man has loved.
And what did Jesus mean when he referred to children? Again, he didn't mean only the children of his time. When he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not," it's as if Jesus had said, "Let your purity, your innocence, your trustfulness, and your joy come to the Christ." Our true individual selfhood is the child we must let go to the Christ, the child we must let grow by nurturing and cherishing him until he reaches "the stature of the fulness of Christ,"12 of God's spiritual, perfect model of manhood.
Are we letting the child within us go to the Christ, or are we holding him back? Are we letting our innocence, purity, joy grow towards the Christ? Or are we conspiring against ourselves by letting malice, hate, and resentment bind and shackle us? We need to obey Jesus' guidance and let our child within go to the Christ. Then we are expressing true humility.
Gratitude for Love's Action Brings Renewed Strength and Life
We've seen how compassion and humility bring forth divine Love in our experience − the presence of spiritual good in action.
Gratitude also helps, but how? Through the recognition of spiritual good in our lives, surrounding us, guiding us as we recognize the spiritual good which is ours by divine right. Then our heart overflows with joy and we feel the need to share our love and affections with others. Gratitude is the light that brings healing.
My mother found this true. One morning she woke up feeling very weak. She was pale, very tired, and could scarcely breathe. She complained of pains around her heart and asked me to help her through prayer. I said I would, but that she had to do some work too. I gave her some sheets of paper and a pen and asked her to write down all the good things she had to be grateful for since her earliest childhood.
I left her alone and prayed with an absolute conviction that there is only one heart − the great heart of Love. God is Love, and Love is good in action. This action of the great heart of Love is harmonious, intelligent, beautiful, full of energy, eternal, and loving. Nothing can hinder, retard, or accelerate this action. It's independent of matter, yet God's action governs man's action. So my mother could only express this action of the great heart of Love because in reality it's the only action there is.
When I came back to my mother's room two hours later, she was sitting on the side of her bed. Her expression amazed me. She was beautiful, with pink cheeks and bright eyes and a glow of inner joy I'd never seen on her face before. She told me she had never thought she had so many things to be grateful for. She'd even cried with gratitude. In the afternoon she took a bus and went to pay a visit to some friends, entirely well.
What was it that had bound her, hindering her health, her normal activity? It was her lack of acknowledgment of Love's goodness. When she became conscious of how divine Love was embracing and guiding her whole life, the heart trouble was dissipated. Mrs. Eddy points out, "What is gratitude but a powerful camera obscura, a thing focusing light where love, memory, and all within the human heart is present to manifest light."13 So we see that spiritual good comes to our experience here and now as we are compassionate, humble, and grateful.
We Are Always Loved by Divine Love
Perhaps you're thinking, "All right, I'm ready and willing to be compassionate, humble, and grateful." But what about being loving when you know somebody is openly against you?
Mrs. Eddy's experience gives us an answer to this question. It shows that when we recognize that we can of our human selves do nothing, that the activity of divine good is constantly expressing itself, then all things become possible to us, because it isn't we who do them, it's just the action of spiritual good manifesting itself. It's the intelligence of divine good, the ability of divine good, the capacity of divine good working in every aspect of our lives.
I've always been grateful for Mrs. Eddy's spiritual discernment which enabled her to perceive so clearly that Love is the divine Principle of the universe. And she saw it so distinctly that loving became the goal of her life. She consecrated her whole life to healing, to teaching, and to sharing her discovery, Christian Science, with the world. Not even the most difficult moments, when she had to face strong attacks on her work, hindered her love.
One of these instances occurred in 1899 when one of her students who didn't understand her made an attempt to discredit her publicly and destroy her lifework. This was a crucial period for Mrs. Eddy and a severe test for her loyal followers. Had this attempt succeeded, a very misleading concept of Mrs. Eddy, her discovery, and what Christian Scientists believe about the Bible, would have been imposed upon the public.
As usual Mrs. Eddy leaned on God, divine Love, as her strong support through prayer. One night after having prayed for inspiration, she took some sheets of paper and put on her wrist the rubber band that bound them. Later she tossed it aside, but she noticed it fell in the exact shape of a heart.
Mrs. Eddy was always alert to God's messages. She saw in everything good and beautiful surrounding her the expression of God's love. And this rubber band in the shape of a heart was for her a little symbol of the great heart of Love. She realized the great heart of Love was tenderly embracing her and each one of her followers, awakening them all to the Christian duty of loving one's enemies. She earnestly prayed that divine Love would awaken everyone to the injustice of the situation.
Shortly after, she was greatly comforted and encouraged by a letter from her loyal students, recognizing her as their teacher and Leader, and acknowledging her selfless work. They pledged themselves to unflinching support even during trials − and to love each other more.
And it's interesting to note in this letter how her students referred to this symbol of the heart. They say, "As 'them of old time' were guided, encouraged, and uplifted by trope metaphor, and symbol, so are you, in this age, being shown the way whereby you and your children are drawn by the band of unity into the great Heart of Love."14
God's Action Is the Great Heart of Love
I said before that I am grateful to Mrs. Eddy for her clear understanding that Love is the divine Principle of the universe. But it was not easy for me to understand it.
For many years I couldn't reconcile the idea of God as divine Love with another term Christian Science uses for God − Principle. It seemed to me the name Love was full of warmth and tenderness; while Principle, implying attributes of law, order, and control, was quite rigid and cold. So I didn't understand why Love is the divine Principle of the spiritual universe, as Christian Science teaches.
After much study and prayer, I realized what makes divine Love also Principle is God's changeless goodness, the fixedness and dependability of His attributes. The fact that nothing can make divine Love be less than Love, is what enables us to affirm that Love is Principle. Nothing can change the attributes of Love; nothing can make tenderness less than tender, compassion less than compassionate or goodness less than good. The fact that divine Love can never be less than Love is what makes it divine Principle.
Then another question arose. How can we reconcile the mercy of Love with the law of Principle? When I went to the dictionary for a definition of "mercy", my attention was caught by the history of this word, rather than its present meaning. "Mercy" comes from the Latin word "merces" which means "price paid" or "wages."15 I realized the present meaning of the word is just the opposite of the original meaning, since today mercy implies undeserved withholding of a punishment even when justice seems to demand it. So I began to think about the mercy of God as Principle, not in the present meaning of the word, but according to its original meaning as "price paid" or "wages."
I thought about mathematics, which expresses the exactness of Principle. I thought about the multiplication table. It gives exact, true results. Would it be merciful for the principle of mathematics to say, "Oh, this poor person has multiplied two times two and gotten five. Let's be merciful and forgive him." Or, "Let's change the result in the table, so he won't be mistaken." Would it really be merciful to change the standard of mathematical accuracy every time somebody made a mistake? The usefulness of the multiplication table is in its reliability, its constancy to furnish true results.
From this example, I clearly saw that the mercy of Principle, or Love, is its very changelessness. The mercy of Principle is constituted by its goodness, its irrevocable goodness which is constantly yet lovingly correcting our experience. This divine mercy demands us to pay a "price" or a "wage" every time we make a mistake. But that price is not some harsh sacrifice. It's rather coming to the realization that we've been wrong, and are ready to recognize and apply the truth. This is the mercy of Principle: to make us aware of the truth which corrects even the three greatest mistakes − sin, sickness, and death.
Christ Jesus was the man who most understood Love to be Principle. And it was with the authority of Principle that he accomplished all that he did.
Now it was clear to me I could reconcile the tenderness of Love with the mercy of Principle. Love's tenderness is always lovingly establishing nothing less than truth, so eliminating every error or mistake.
Why is it so important for us to understand this? Because the great heart of Love, divine Principle, is beating from eternity to eternity to give us the best from His heart of hearts − only the good, the true, the eternal, since there is no other real existence.
When the light of divine Love shines in our life through the expression of deep satisfaction, joy, and peace, then we're proving that we are the light of the world. Every man, woman, and child possesses the ability of letting this light shine. In this light there are no mirages, no shadows. It's the light of the Christ which uplifts our motives, feelings, and affections.
We find a new heart, a new consciousness − not self-centered but God-centered, not craving to get but willing to give. To give its treasures of humility, compassion, gratitude. This new consciousness makes us feel happy, satisfied, healthy, because through it we recognize ourselves and others as motivated by divine Love alone − cared for, protected, and blessed by the great heart of Love.
1. Isaiah 54:5.
2. Science and Health, p. 587.
3. Ibid., p. 490.
4. Genesis 1:27.
5. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165.
6. Matthew 19:19.
7. Luke 23:34.
8. Matthew 18:3.
9. Mark .
10. Matthew 24:35.
11. Science and Health, p. 332.
12. Ephesians 4:13.
13. Miscellany, p. 164.
14. We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Third Series (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1953), p. 16.
15. Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 530.