‘Afterlife Interrupted: Helping Stuck Souls Cross Over’
Author: Fr. Nathan Castle, OP
Length: 202 pages
Release Date: Oct. 10, 2018
Available at: Kino Library
About 70 years ago, the famous mystic, St. Padre Pio, was praying alone in his friary. When he looked up from his prayer, he saw an old man standing in front of him. The man claimed to have died in the friary a half-century before and was stuck in purgatory. He needed a holy Mass said for him in order to be unstuck.
Padre Pio researched the history of the friary and discovered that what the man said was true, so he celebrated a holy Mass for him. Padre Pio later found out that the man had passed happily into heaven. No one thought anything of it — it was, of course, Padre Pio, the mystic with the stigmata.
Fast-forward 70 years and when a Dominican priest does a very similar thing, Catholics start asking questions and begin feeling just a little strange about it.
This is what Fr. Nathan Castle, OP’s new book, “Afterlife Interrupted,” is all about — helping souls stuck here, in the 21st century, to make their way to heaven.
First, I’ve known Fr. Nathan for a dozen years or so; he is a Dominican brother of mine, and was once our lay chapter’s religious assistant. I have no reason to doubt his veracity, even with something so out of the ordinary as this — after all, our entire faith is so out of the ordinary.
To be clear, most of us Catholics believe in an afterlife, so there’s a ton of souls out there somewhere. Also, Scripture speaks about spirits, and Jesus, the Apostles and specially trained priests called exorcists spend time forcing demons out of people. So there’s that.
This means things can go awry after death and before settling into heaven, purgatory or hell.
Fr. Nathan tells us how these souls come to him in dreams. Before anyone gets their self-righteousness in a bundle, the Church has no specific teachings on the subject. It is left to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as Fr. Nathan clearly states. If, however, souls do show up like they did for Padre Pio, who you gonna call?
The people who show up in Fr. Nathan’s dreams are people who have died tragically, violently and suddenly, and the shock had effectively locked them near “here,” our earthly plane.
Fr. Nathan has had a prayer partner in these events — it reads like he’s had several over the years, and Fr. Nathan works to help these people accept their states, i.e. that they’ve passed from life. He then works to understand what happened to the person and then works to establish some motivation or some connection to help them move on.
It begins with the story of Ray. Ray was a young man of about 20 years old who had opened a repair shop in his garage. One day, after he and a friend had too much to drink and were arguing, Ray decided to sit up on the radiator of the car, which apparently caused a fire, and Ray was killed. Ray was unhappy about that; he said he couldn’t understand how God would let that happen. He further said that he had been sent to Fr. Nathan, and that his wife, who had remarried, had cancer, and that because he was stuck, he worried that he couldn’t be there to greet her when she passed.
Such were the problems of the suddenly, unexpectedly departed.
Throughout these stories, Fr. Nathan weaves the lessons learned helping souls to the good place. Take the example of Shelby, an old retired country lawyer who let his exemplar self-image turn to the vice of pride. When it came time to give up driving because of his age, he stubbornly refused and accidentally drove his massive car into the nearby river where it sank like a tank.
Old Shelby had learned the hard way that “pride goeth before a fall”… especially into a river.
There are 13 stories here — ignore the number, it’s just coincidence — each unique and even heartwarming.
If I have one thing to say about my Dominican brother’s book, it would be that it is completely unique, a little strange to those who might be saddled with the yoke of materialism, but ultimately one that we will all want to read.