What is the source of a comment, attributed to Eddy, about prayer for a Civil War veteran?

June 22, 2020

We are sometimes asked about an unusual comment Mary Baker Eddy made to a Christian Science practitioner, about a man who fought in the Civil War.

This comment can be found in an article by Ira. W. Packard (c. 1845–1927), titled “Justification.” It originally appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel dated May 10, 1913:

A number of years ago, a Christian Science practitioner had as a patient a civil war veteran, who was suffering from a wound received in the war. The case not yielding to treatment, Mrs. Eddy was asked what she thought the error could be that prevented the healing; she replied in effect, that the practitioner as well as the patient believed there had once been a war, and regarded it as a link in the man’s history. How many of us have freed our thought entirely from the belief that error, evil, has had a history? We are told that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, and in order to demonstrate the truth for ourselves and others, it is absolutely necessary that thought be relieved from this incubus, this belief in a material past, for so long as it remains we are yielding assent to error’s claim that we possess a life separate from God.1

Packard and his wife, Mary A. Packard, took Primary class instruction with Eddy in September 1888, and also corresponded with her several times.2 He joined The Mother Church on April 6, 1895.3 He later became a practitioner, listed in The Christian Science Journal for Chicago (beginning in 1900), Los Angeles (beginning in 1914), and South Pasadena, California (beginning in 1917).

We have been unable to locate any other source that attributes this statement to Eddy.

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  1. Ira W. Packard, “Justification,” Christian Science Sentinel, 10 May 1913, https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/2cz4fbo1rig?s=e
  2. See Yvonne von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck, Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer (Amplified Edition) (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 2009), 398–399.
  3. List of Members of The Mother Church, June 3, 1899, 109.