Lessons from the Life of Cora Evans
After her disillusionment with the Mormon faith of her childhood, Cora Evans – wife and mother – converted to Catholicism in Utah in 1935. A rather radical decision at the time, Cora was drawn by an innate mystical spirituality of drawing in unitive love with Our Lord. For her, it could only be fulfilled in the Catholic faith, though she did not know this with certitude until she was in her thirties.
She was only twenty at the time of rejecting the Mormonism into which she had been baptized as a child. At that point, she spent a long ten-year quest to search for truth. She discovered it in the Catholic Church after spending many hours listening to a radio program hosted by Monsignor Duane Hunt.
Although she was never formally educated alongside her peers, she felt a conviction to write. This, to her, was clearly inspiration from the Holy Spirit. She had suffered from various illnesses throughout her childhood, which had prevented her from completing her academic studies. Despite her lack of schooling, she followed this divine prompting and penned beautiful personal letters, descriptions of her visions, and conversations with God.
Since these are known as private revelations, there is no obligation to accept the musings of Cora Evans. Still, based on her life – which some may label ordinary – we can glean hints of the ways in which she exemplified virtue and grew in holiness, also encouraging others to do the same.
Cora Evans’ spirituality is, quite possibly, so remarkable, because of her ordinariness. She was a lay woman, married with children, and did not possess any spectacular abilities or talents. Yet she strove, in her own way and along her own journey on Earth, toward Jesus. Her particular love for the Eucharist fortified her to perhaps even love the ordinary, rather than seek pomp and popularity.
Yet she accomplished, without trying, what so few of us do in our lifetime – the conversion of not only her own soul, but the soul of thousands of others. In the span of three years, Cora persuaded a plethora of Mormons to visit St. Joseph Catholic Church, and they, too, began a journey into the Catholic Church.
Her mystical revelations began in July 1938. This was the turning point by which she described her “vow day” of dedicating her entire life to God. When God gifted her with the stigmata, she learned of the perpetual loneliness, rejection, skepticism, and ridicule that accompanied such a miracle.
Despite losing friends and family members after her conversion, Cora clung to Jesus for strength. She was convinced that He was the Source of her life, of her breath, of everything – particularly since she was well aware of her own weaknesses, both physical limitations and lack of proper education.
The Cause for Canonization
The cause for Cora Evans’ canonization is rooted in her exemplary humility, perseverance in trials, and fortitude. She was also supremely obedient to the Magisterium and sought spiritual counsel regarding her mystical experiences, never wavering from what she was instructed to do about and with these.
The phrase “mystical humanity of Christ” is attributed to Cora, because she believed strongly that all of us can draw nearer to Jesus’ humanity and thus enter into His Divine Heart more closely. Perhaps it is actually the humanity of Jesus that drew Cora nearer to Him during her physical and emotional suffering, because she knew He was the only One who would fulfill the deepest longings of her heart.
Selected Quotes from Cora Evans
“We are His portable tabernacles! What a mission in life!”
Cora lived her entire life immersed in this truth. She took seriously the responsibility every one of us has to care for ourselves and others, to notice that each of us is a reflection of God and to therefore freely forgive, unconditionally love, and gently correct. If we all carried the image of our souls as portable tabernacles, I wonder how we might change for the better, how we might consider the weight of our words before they are spoken or respond to the Holy Spirit rather than hesitate.
“Your life here on earth is but a means of winning the reward of life everlasting.”
Only those who have worn the invisible cloak of physical suffering and chronic pain can keep the perspective that we are pilgrims, sojourners on earth and that our final destination is heaven. That is our hope, and it was Cora’s too – that no matter what we suffer on earth, that suffering has been redeemed by Jesus and can powerfully transform us and the world in which we live.
“How well it is to learn the rule that we cannot escape life and the unique trials that our chosen vocations bring upon us.”
The problem that happens when we fall into dark despondency and even teeter on the brink of despair is this – we forget that no one is exempt from trials. Part of the human condition is learning to live with, and possibly embrace, our crosses. Cora learned this from a young age after suffering from bouts of physical ailments. Most of us squander our sufferings in the vain attempt to “get to the other side,” that is, to get healed or find peace. We forget that healing and peace do not happen without the crucible of suffering, by which our souls are refined and purified.
“Souls are masterpieces – our visible life is the canvas upon which we try painting the image of Jesus.”
If we all saw each other the way Cora saw people – individuals, not simply a collective humanity – we might carry with us this image of Jesus in every conversation or encounter. I find that I’m constantly surprised by the connections God places in my life, always when I least expect them. When I enter a conversation with no pretenses or agenda, I am allowing the blank canvas of the other person to be painted by what is said or not said, by what is shared in the spoken word or in silence. Cora knew that we can hurt or heal by what we do and say to others, and she encouraged us all, as only she could in her gentle way, to keep at the forefront of our minds and hearts the fact that we are images of God but also instruments of God to others.