Not surprisingly, according to dozens of research studies, regular church attendance can be beneficial to one’s health. People who pray frequently and participate in religious services stay healthier and live longer than those who rarely or never do. This was found to be true even when other factors—such as age, habits, or demographics—were considered.
One six-year study at Duke University, consisting of 4,000 men and women of various faiths and all older than 64 years, found that the relative risk of dying was 46 percent lower for those who attended religious services frequently. Likewise, from a University of Miami study of AIDS patients, those who became long-term survivors were more likely to be involved in religious practices or engaged in volunteer work, emphasizing the aspect of service that the Cayce readings so highly recommend.
The ideal of service was also mentioned in a reading for an osteopath who asked Cayce if it would help his practice if he attended a church. If so, he wanted to know which one. Cayce replied:
This is rather irreverent, my son. For, to be sure, to do good that good may come from same is well. But to question self—If there is the answering from within, that due reverence to the spiritual forces would arise from thine service and thine activity with an organized service, then through such and from such must come, of course, the greater ability, opportunity, to be of service to thy fellow man. Would be well, if the promptings come from within. If the promptings come that such may be used as a steppingstone for thine own self alone, not so well; for thine heart and soul cannot be in same if it be for material gain alone!
-Edgar Cayce reading 657-3
While the readings neither give authority to nor endorse any particular religious organization or ecclesiastical structure, they did counsel some seekers to affiliate with a church. Cayce himself grew up in the Disciples of Christ (Christian) Church, but joined the First Presbyterian Church when in the 1920s the family moved to Virginia Beach, as there was no Disciples of Christ congregation established at that time at the Beach.
From a holistic viewpoint, in addition to improving and helping to maintain a better physical body, church attendance has mental and spiritual components as well. In answer to a woman who asked if she should affiliate with any particular church organization, Cayce advised: “A particular church organization is well. For it centers the mind.” (3350-1) Another woman was told: “Remember, rather, the church is within self. As to the organization, choose that—not as a convenience for thee but where ye may serve the better, whatever its name...” (3342-1)
The advisability—even wisdom—of church affiliation and participation reflect Cayce’s own example in his waking state. Not only would such an action on an individual’s part be well for spiritual support, and for an opportunity to serve others—a purpose that Cayce tells us we all have in common—but also gives one the opportunity to make choices. The choices we face and make provide the particular experiences necessary for personal growth. Recognizing and understanding this decision-making aspect of the soul and the freedom of choice we have as a birthright, helps us to refrain from fault-finding or criticism of others. One’s spiritual development—whatever path he or she chooses to follow—is top priority and becomes the Truth for that person. According to one reading, from the Search for God Study Group series:
Wherever Truth is made manifest it gives place to that which is heaven for those that seek and love truth! But a mighty hell for those that seek gratification of their own selves!
-Edgar Cayce reading 262-87
Earlier in the same section of this reading Cayce defines “the Holy Church” as “That which makes for the awareness in the heart of the individual.” The excerpt continues: “The Church is never a body, never an assembly. An individual soul becomes aware that it has taken that Head, that Son, that Man even, to be the intermediator. That is the Church; that is what is spoken of as the Holy Church.” (262-87)
The Church, then, is not equated with any particular institution or organization. Regardless of our disagreements or discouragements with human-made institutions, the true Church within us is the place where we may find answers to many of those questions concerning that Spirit “that manifests by the attuning of the individual...” (262-87)
Attunement creates for us the balance and harmony we need for a more fulfilled life—with a healthy body, a centered mind, and a purposeful spirit. A commitment involving frequent prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading along with an active church life helps us make that attunement, nurturing our bodies on all three levels: physical, mental, and spiritual.
Reprinted from the Summer 2017 Cayce Quarterly newsletter. Cayce Quarterly newsletter and Venture Inward magazine are member benefits of Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. To receive the magazine and newsletter, join today!