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On Spiritual Experiences

Brendan Busse, SJ, received a note from one of his students asking about the role of dramatic spiritual experiences in belief. Here’s one excerpt from Busse’s thoughtful reply (which can be read in full at The Jesuit Post).

And there it is. You’re having a life. You’re having experiences. You’ll have more of them. To know that they are meaningful and that their strength is in their depth as well as in their simplicity, in their drama as well as in their ordinariness, in their truth as well as in their consequences—that knowledge is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. That you’re interested in asking the question about whether your belief and your experiences are meaningful and that you would dare to use the word “hope” (“I hope to live my life”¦”) to describe how you’re going about making decisions in your studies”¦well, all of this is evidence, to my mind, of real strength!


  1. keeping all the Jesuits esp those in training in prayers as they are much needed. Thanks for doing the journry.
    Men and Women for others

  2. I picked up on the reference to Richard Rohr’s advice to experience our experiences and allow them to expand us, because I’ve lived this myself. Of the few but major spiritual experiences I’ve had, all have been more clearly understood in retrospect. I didn’t understand them at the time, was unsettled thinking about them. Overall, they weren’t the be all and end all of my faith, rather infusions or exclamation points in the narrative. They resulted in a sense of gratitude more than anything as they helped me to grow.

  3. This is indeed a very thoughtful response to the student. Brendan Busse mirrors my own thoughts in this statement near the end of his reply: “I find that I don’t feel confident or strong in the spiritual life as often as I feel grateful.”


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