Best Quotes by Cora Evans

Jeannie Ewing

Best Quotes by Cora Evans

It’s hard to find a person whose writing is so pure, so honest, so revelatory. These days, I scour the desolate landscape of my interior life, searching for life-giving words. I read daily – the saints (about them and in their own words), scripture, memoirs, self-help, devotionals. Every day, I am desperate to discover something that will resound in the hollows of my heart. Mostly, it’s silence.

Cora Evans, a woman who lived in a different era and clear across the country from where I sit typing this article today, spoke to me. Her words are timeless, I find. And meaningful. But I think what strikes me the most is that they are honest. 

There’s tenderness in her honesty. She did not pretend to be a lofty mystic (though she was, in a way). She knew her weaknesses and was not hesitant to reveal them in her work. I’ve tried to find a woman writer who is both willing and able to reveal such difficult truths, including spiritual aridity and holy darkness. 

Now, I have. Her words are a balm that cover a multitude of compounded heartaches. It is my hope that they will reach the ache in your own heart and rejuvenate your spirit as they have my own.

“How I have missed Thee, my Jesus, and Thy nearness in the long, silent day of Advent in my waiting for Thee. I have missed Thy unexpected delights, Thy gifts to me in the knowledge of Thy Sacred Humanity, and now my soul is weeping tonight in loneliness for Thee.”1

Advent – the anticipation of arrival. There is hope in every Advent, always a spark, always at least an ember waiting to be reignited into flame. We wait, sometimes a long and lonely stretch, for what is to come, for what has been promised to us. Jesus seems near, yet so distant. We find that the consolations we once received have vanished when we need them the most, when we are parched and left with nothing, not even a small touch from Heaven. 

Waiting is a type of suffering. The long loneliness, as Dorothy Day wrote, seems a road that has no end in sight. The heart can bear a short stint of waiting, especially when we know what – or Who – we are waiting for. But when the waiting is a strand that continues into oblivion, and we have no certainty of a resolution to this strange tension between what has been and what will be, we might break at the seams. We might break down. 

The point in waiting is perseverance. If we fall down seven times, we get up eight. 

“Oh night of the soul, thou art hard to bear. Thou art invisible, yet as close as a friend. I know it is necessary for my humility and nothingness of self to acknowledge thy nearness when thou dost visit me with thy spiritual cloud of darkness, doubts, and fears.”2

I have been told by a few confidantes that they are worried about me, about the condition of my soul. In recent days, I’ve confessed some temptations toward doubting and despair. Strangely, I don’t stop worshiping God and I don’t give up entirely. It’s just a terrifying recognition when one is confronted with these types of mental demons.

Yet, in another strange way, it’s also a comfort to be reminded that many holy men and women – like Cora Evans – and canonized saints struggled with horrific mental torment. I recently read about St. Jane Frances de Chantal and what she described as “spiritual nausea,” which translated into chronic depression and constant doubts. She even struggled with the temptation toward blasphemy. St. Vincent de Paul, a friend of hers, knew of this and yet wrote that she was holy, not in spite of her struggles but because of them.

“Oh, inexpressible darkness, thou art incomprehensible in thy depths of loneliness when Jesus has gone away or a little while. Little by little, thou art even transported into my memory, and consciousness is saddened because thou, oh loneliness, hast cooled the flame of love in my soul through longing, waiting, and watching for Him.”3

Longing tends to accompany waiting. In my own life, when seasons of silence and little activity become years and even decades, there is nothing left except nothingness itself. The darkness becomes a companion in the way a complete stranger on a stranded island might. You wouldn’t choose to befriend them, but because of dire circumstances, you find an irreplaceable bond.

Along with this darkness is an incredible loneliness. Those of us who love God know that only He can fill this void, so we seek Him – incessantly and in desperation. But our search ends up in futility. The more we seek, the more He remains hidden. It’s like the more we think we know, the less we actually understand.

God operates mysteriously in our souls during these bouts of spiritual pining. As Luis Martinez wrote, sometimes He chooses to sleep in us. And that’s when we should be quiet and let Him rest. Maybe even rest with Him.

“Rest and sleep in Him, oh soul of mine. Rest in holy rest in this thy hour of prayer with Jesus.”4

A friend recently gifted me with a simple bracelet bearing the engraving, “Come unto me.” It was from the beloved verse from Matthew 11:28, which concludes with “I will give you rest.” Who is not burdened with many things these days? I’ll dare to say no one. 

Rest does not come easily to most of us with heavy burdens. Rest may be elusive even, to those of us in crisis or who are caregivers. Still, resting in and with Jesus is an expression of love that moves beyond the lip service of the most eloquent prayer.

“Sweetness at times is heavy to bear in a world of sin, but the cross of worldliness is heavier still – so heavy at times you would think it would slay the thought of Eternal Justice and pierce the counsel bar of inspired teachings, unless your will asks conscience to rebuff the florid streams of the sinful world about you.”5

I would say the sweetness of worldliness is a heavy cross to bear, in the sense that it appeals to the senses, yet dulls the soul. Spiritual sweetness often accompanies worldliness. We don’t always recognize it as such, because we may not be close to God if our hearts are consumed with the treasures of earth rather than Heaven. 

And once we draw nearer to the heart of the Suffering Jesus – the culmination and epitome of Love – we may discover that sweetness of both kinds dissolves, and we are left to wonder where we are and where we’re headed.

1Evans, Cora. Gems: Knowing Christ in the Light of Modern Wisdom, 39.

Ibid, 82.

Ibid, 94.

4 Ibid, 110.

Ibid, 124.