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The Contrite Heart
ELLA W. HOAG, CSD


         From the depths of true repentance the Psalmist once declared, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." From his day to ours such sacrifices as these have been laid upon God's altar; and now, as then, they always result in the blessing of a rich and ever unfolding understanding of God's transcendent goodness and perfections. Indeed, men have been finding with greater and greater certainty that a sure way of approach to a true sense of unity with God is through this same "broken spirit" and "contrite heart."

         Christian Science makes plain the reason for this, since it shows that human belief must be recognized as mistaken, and it must be relinquished before spiritual understanding can take its place. So long as mortals are content with the things of the flesh, they will not seek the things of Spirit. Satisfied with matter and its deceptive allurements, they will not reach out for Spirit and spiritual bliss. They must begin to awaken to the unsatisfactoriness of a supposititious existence in matter apart from God, Spirit, before they will seek for something higher and better.

         The words of God in Isaiah's time are therefore as loud a call to men today to repent as they were when they were first uttered: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Here is the positive assurance from God that the blessed entrance into the holy of holies — into conscious unity with Him — is won by true contrition and humility.

         Mrs. Eddy recognized this when in her Message to The Mother Church for 1900 (p. 15) she said, "The Passover, spiritually discerned, is a wonderful passage over a tear-filled sea of repentance — which of all human experience is the most divine; and after this Passover cometh victory, faith, and good works." She must have seen that the human consciousness which acknowledges most fully its apparent distance from the divine is the one to seek most quickly the shelter of spiritual good. "A wonderful passage over a tear-filled sea of repentance — which of all human experience is the most divine"! What a picture is this of that contriteness of heart which is willing to acknowledge and relinquish its mistakes and shortcomings, its false beliefs and false inclinations, its evil, material tendencies; and what holy unity awaits it! The unity with the Most High!

         When the light of Christian Science dawns upon us and we gain the first wonderful glimpses of the allness of God, good, and the consequent nothingness of evil, we are apt to feel that our days of the "contrite heart" are over. We know that this light of spiritual truth has come to us because we have been ready and glad to let go of some degree of falsity. We therefore imagine we may go steadily forward without let or hindrance in the laying hold of all spirituality. The need for watchfulness and repentance on our part is, however, not yet entirely done away with; for in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p.107) our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, tells us, "Without a sense of one's oft-repeated violations of divine law, the individual may become morally blind;" and she later adds, "Without a knowledge of his sins, and repentance so severe that it destroys them, no person is or can be a Christian Scientist."

         This is, however, no cause for discouragement; for whether intentionally or inadvertently committed, there is no wrong which may not be repented of, and the contrite heart is always the open door to renewed unity with God. And who has not been conscious of the transforming power of true repentance? Who has not felt the peace which comes to one after some conscious or unconscious error has been brought out from under cover in one's own thinking, its falsity discerned, its nothingness recognized? What a sense of purity has resulted! How the contrite heart has rejoiced in the strength of a larger understanding of holiness! How the one thus humbled has rejoiced in a closer unity with his Father-Mother God; how secure he has felt within the renewedly sheltering arm of divine Love; how sure he has been that never again could he be tempted outside Love's tender care!

         No one need ever be afraid of entertaining contriteness of heart! He who watches most carefully and sees most quickly and plainly his every least divergence from the straight and narrow path of Truth and Love will most quickly find his way back again. Indeed, if one feels separated from God, the most effectual method of banishing such unhappiness is to begin immediately to repent of this very sense of separation. Must not the contrite heart, which deeply regrets having entertained thoughts of doubt and fear, be consciously present before one's at-one-ment with divine Love can again be realized?

         In "Unity of Good" (p. 61) our dear Leader writes, "Truth, in divine Science, is the stepping-stone to the understanding of God; but the broken and contrite heart soonest discerns this truth, even as the helpless sick are soonest healed by it." It is, then, the mental attitude which most clearly recognizes its poverty and paucity when apart from the plentifulness and all-power of divine Mind which will soonest lay hold of the infinitude of God, good. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Thus does the contrite heart reap its rich reward!

 

"The Contrite Heart" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
The Christian Science Sentinel, September, 1925
 

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