This Catholic hermit has experienced mystical phenomenon for years--all its life: when a child, teen, married, Protestant, single, Catholic, Catholic hermit. Over the years this hermit has realized it has to educate itself as best it can, and God provides all education, at that, through various means. A simple means is that through life experience; another is through reading books by those of the past whose lives exhibited lived experience and knowledge as well as those academics who wrote on various topics of spiritual experiences.
From personal standpoint, the Lord gives some souls more spiritual experiences, and the reasons are His to know. However, we may be privy to some reasons, for ourselves. These reasons can play out in generalized terms. The Lord utilizes mystical means, probably most often, to communicate with us. For those who recognize the experiences, they do tend to grab one's attention--especially those experiences that are profoundly life-altering and obvious.
Sometimes the experiences are witnessed by others. Most often, spiritual experiences of the mystical or supernatural modality are private messages of love, warning, guidance or visitation by His Real Presence. These are meted out by whoever God in Three Persons desires, if given by messengers: angels, recognizable saints--perhaps most notably the Virgin Mary, angels, souls on the other side known or unknown by the person receiving the experience, and even by demons. (Yes, demons are under God's power and might, and they can be utilized in a way we may not have considered. They can be used to shock us, frighten us, and instill a dread of evil in order to turn us to God and good.)
Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, manifests in various supernatural ways, to souls His Real Presence desires to touch according to His will and providence.
On occasion, souls from purgatory are allowed to deliver messages or present themselves to souls. (It is all for our benefit, for our learning, for the increase of our faith or for the enactment of some good.) Souls in hell are not utilized individually, or at least not often. This hermit has not experienced a visit from a soul in hell, but it has been shown souls in hell--to view the scene, to see them in their agonies.
On two occasions involving a total of three souls the hermit could identify from having known them when they were on earth, it was uncertain if they were in hell or in an anguished level of purgation. Am trying to ponder if in any of the books read, there were instances in which a soul from hell made a visit or brought a message to one yet on earth. Perhaps, though. Will keep searching the memory.
This hermit, back when yet a Protestant, was told by a human person yet in unusual circumstances, that it would suffer greatly and would "teach". When the possibility of teaching was viewed from a practical and secular sense, it could not fathom continuing its career in education as a teacher. But the personage corrected that thought and said, "No, you will TEACH. You will teach men and women how to stabilize their emotions through spirituality."
That was an odd way of stating what now is more concretized as helping others with their spiritual lives and spiritual journeys, by teaching them what I have learned from experience and have learned through study, and have learned through His Real Presence Who Is the Teacher and Creator of All good. But when told of this aspect of the earthly mission, this hermit was not a hermit, was not a Catholic, and was not aware of other terminology. Helping men and women stabilize their emotions through spirituality was neutral enough, then, so as to give a general grasp and that the teaching was not going to be of secular subjects.
Anyone can be the recipient of spiritual and mystical experiences and phenomenon. It is for everyone, as God wishes to communicate with us fully and in all aspects, not just of the temporal. The temporal is actually rather sluggish as a means because of all the distractions. When the soul is opened up (that veil not so heavy or thick, the mirror not so foggy), more and more can come into the soul from His Real Presence, and then without needing to utilize manifestations of personages or audible voices, or tangible scents.
And, the soul can be opened more at some times than at others, and thus there is an inter-weaving of levels and types of communications. The hermit's 91-year-old aunt, in a phone conversation the other day, appreciated hearing the message to this hermit from its grandmother, the aunt's mother. The hermit was explaining also the perfume of the Holy Spirit. The aunt said she wished she could experience that supernal scent some time. The hermit mentioned perhaps not in the way it experienced it the other day because it came due to the hermit's being so taken down, so humbled, so painfully crushed and emptied.
Yet, the hermit does understand why people might desire such experiences, for they are lovely and profound at the sensory level. Yet they do also signal that the soul is yet rather weak, or was in dire need of consolation, or yet is rather dense in faith and hope so as to require such a touch from God. If the aunt keeps evolving so beautifully as she has in recent years, turning more and more to God and remaining gracious and loving and increasing in charity and virtues despite much suffering, perhaps she will be gifted with the gift of perfume upon her death or prior.
This hermit is asking the favor of the Lord, for this aunt's faith, it would seem to this hermit (whose thoughts are ridiculously unwise considering God's omniscience!) a lovely bequest for her that would increase the aunt's faith all the more. But what does this hermit know of all that? Not a thing in certainty. Just a lot of "it seems."
So, it seems from this hermit's personal experience with such matters as well as through a fair amount of reading of books written by those with experience whose experience has perdured for centuries, that mystical phenomenon and spiritual experiences of the numinous, occur because God chooses them for His purposes. They include private or public: messages of warning, instruction, desiring some change, increasing faith, and always bringing about some form of good.
That others or even the person receiving the experience do not understand, is all right. Sometimes these matters take years to fully evolve or grasp, or to be proven correct, or to be understood in fullness of truth.
As to who receives these experiences, truly, each of us can. Many of us may. A few of us can and may more often than others. Some possible reasons for the frequency may have to do with their personal needs, their level of spiritual acquisition, their mission in this life, and above all, just because God decides and determines.
There is no general rule as to if the mystical and spiritual experiences will continue, or how often, in what modality, or when. Some might have one experience that is of the mysterium tremendom (or at least that they recognized) in their entire life. Others may have many. Yet others may never think they have--like people who claim they do not at all dream. They simply do not remember, for one reason or another. Some mystics with high degree of holiness attained while on earth (in religion called "saints") have suggested that as one progresses spiritually, the more developed soul no longer needs such means of God's reaching in, for the soul assimilates His communications more and more directly, as the soul's will becomes inculcated into His will.
Thus, it is not such the status thing at all, to have phenomenal experiences; and that is why this hermit readily admits that much of its spiritual experiences are due to its own weakness and neediness. And being weak and needy is nothing anyone should encourage in his- or herself with the calculated hope of receiving spiritual phenomenon.
With phenomenon-type communications from His Real Presence of Himself or through His emissaries, there is always an onus of responsibility. Sometimes the person who receives is asked to share or to teach; sometimes (and probably most often) it is to make a personal, deeper conversion away from lack of love and turning to God Who Is Love. Or, actually, there are many levels of purposes, for there always is a purpose of deeper conversion.
When the phenomenon become more public, there is more pain involved because there is much judgment. This Catholic hermit realizes part of its purpose in being given spiritual and mystical experiences is for deeper conversion, yes, but also to teach others about such matters and including helping them learn to be aware, to grasp, and to discern and interpret their God-given experiences. Really the spiritual is going on all around us, and He so wants to communicate more and more directly. That is the way of true love between lovers. And God so loves us!
After all, another consideration is just how phenomenal are any communications with God, and that leads into the value of prayer, of prayer reaching the affective phase of loving conversation and praising His Real Presence. It also includes the consideration that each present moment provides from God, phenomenon that is holy and heavenly, even if not abnormal from our temporal familiarity.
For example, it is a spiritual phenomenon that somehow the hermit got the name brought to mind: John Climacus. And then it got the notion that it had that book in the boxes of books in the pole barn, and that it might be the book the older spiritual friend and the hermit ought read next. But then the hermit discovered it did not have that book, and really knew nothing of John Climacus. Yet in reading the preface, part of the introduction, and into the first rung of John's "ladder" of lessons on the soul's ascent to God, this book is "phenomenal." And it is rather phenomenal how the choice evolved rather quickly.
This is a lengthy and meandering discussion, but hopefully and prayerfully it may help someone out there, in some way: apply it to your lives; pray for your souls to open up to God's various ways of communicating; ask that your spiritual life grow and desire union with His Real Presence. You will be heard, and the wheels will begin to roll.
For this nothing hermit, stumbling along writing this post is humbling in the expression of that which is not easy to clarify or explain. But leave it rambling, as is, with an added caveat that one tool of discerning spiritual and mystical experiences as more probable from God, is when they come unexpectedly and without the soul asking or without thinking along those lines. Not in one's wildest dreams...would one think this or that would occur...yet it does. In other words, live with our feet firmly on the ground. Let God lead; we follow.
Also, there seems to be far too much fear of such things, and that is noted more in Catholic circles than in Protestant, from this now Catholic and now Catholic hermit's experience. This may be due to Catholics associating having spiritual or mystical experiences of the supernatural or unusual modalities, with "canonized saints." Protestants view them more as psychic phenomenon or some type of spiritual charism of which Paul writes.
In general, it is best to not discuss these experiences with others unless the Lord has given teaching as part of the mission, or writing. Yes, this hermit, years and years ago back when a child, later in college, and then even later when told it would teach men and women how to stabilize their emotions through spirituality, was also then told it would write, and write much.
While this soul has thought that would be in books, the other day when mentioning to a younger spiritual friend that it seems to not be doing the writing God desires of it, and is only doing this blog with so much manual labor needed for survival, the friend said the blog writing is certainly better than nothing.
Suppose this is true. Hope it is, and hope it is helpful to others and pleasing to his Real Presence...Who is in us! God bless His Real Presence in us! Let us love one another and remain together in His Love, for God Is Love!