I've learned from the discussions I've had with medical healthcare providers who are interested in the practice of spiritual healing. A few of these friends maintain a distinction between healing and curing, saying the patients might feel guilty if spiritual healing didn't work in quite the way they expected it to.
For these friends, curing means the removal of physical symptoms - something done to the patient. Healing, on the other hand, is defined as purely mental and spiritual - as something that happens within the patient. Further, they say, one might be cured, but not healed. In other words, physical symptoms might be removed medically or otherwise, and yet leave the underlying problems unresolved.
They also maintain that one can be healed without being cured. That is, one can get a sense of wholeness that improves the overall quality of life, and yet not see disease symptoms removed. Knowing that the Christian Science standard includes both healing and cure, they asked how guilt might be prevented if the physical symptoms aren't entirely alleviated.
It's a good question. But so often there are assumptions behind the question that get in the way of understanding the full reach and consistency of Christian Science healing. For instance, there's the assumption that prayer is limited by the biochemistry of the body, and affects only conditions that the brain reaches through its various biochemical pathways.
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science healing by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, explains that human consciousness is not a function of the brain, but actually constructs and conditions the body through its improved beliefs. That, therefore, a shift in thought can reach every part of the body and govern its conditions.
This insight led Mrs. Eddy to a significant discovery in her healing work: That God is the divine Mind, undeviating Love, and that God's sons and daughters are spiritual, pure, and perfect. And this spiritual fact remains true always, regardless of the beliefs currently accepted in thought and expressed on the body.
Instead of trying to manipulate the human mind to trigger a mind/body reaction, Science and Health leads its readers to see and experience more of their God-given being, and to stop being afraid they are unlovable or beyond healing. These fears contradict God's creation and intended purpose for us. People who have been healed by reading this book often say that they started out to seek a cure only, but that what they ended up finding and feeling about their spiritual identity became so comforting, satisfying, and encouraging that it became primary. The removal of physical symptoms, even if slow, became a secondary, yet very natural, by-product.
Guilt may well be one of the conditions in need of healing, in and of itself. Christian Science teaches how and when to probe thought and disabuse it of whatever is harmful - including guilt - through a deeper understanding of God as all-powerful good. It reveals God, not as condemning or indifferent, but as divine Love, always attentive and responsive to our needs. Right when the act or failure to act seemed to have caused the vexing condition we feel guilty about - right then, the totality of divine Love deprived evil of any power. There was never a time or place where God was absent or His children vulnerable.
Speaking from her experience in spiritual healing, which always included complete cure, Mrs. Eddy said, "Sooner or later the whole human race will learn that, in proportion as the spotless selfhood of God is understood, human nature will be renovated, and man will receive a higher selfhood, derived from God, and the redemption of mortals from sin, sickness, and death be established on everlasting foundations" ("Unity of Good," pg. 6).
Health and innocence are fundamental facts of being, and are demonstrable as inalienable rights for everyone. These correctives are therapeutic, and they reach and heal whatever is in need of healing, including guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.