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Of one man's crossing over to the Other Side in September of 2005, when, after an out-of-control heart arrhythmia at 1:15 a.m., he wakes up dead in the afterlife, and comes back thirty minutes later to tell about it. In the words of his family physician, "Dude, you have been somewhere very few people ever return from." This book also chronicles his somewhat unusual daily life since that time-one of frequent God-encounters, and visits from the other side by family and friends on a mission to facilitate love, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
The afterlife is a common topic of discussion for a religious brother in Santa Paula, Calif., since the publication of his book, "Proof of the Afterlife -- The Conversation Continues," a book of hope, forgiveness and mercy.
"People can say, 'Oh that wasn't just a dream.' God was having a conversation with their life," said Brother Gary Joseph, a member of the Servants of the Father of Mercy, an association of vowed and lay members in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Brother Gary said he has had encounters with God and been involved in conversations with the afterlife ever since his "near-death experience" Sept. 27, 2005: At 1:15 a.m., "an out of control" heart arrhythmia caused him to collapse and his heart to stop, and he felt the overpowering presence of God.
In that state, according to his book, he was immersed in the embracing love of Christ and absorbed spiritual messages. When he was resuscitated, Brother Gary said, he awoke and noticed the clock read exactly 1:45 a.m. "I had been like a dead man, immersed in this encounter for exactly 30 minutes," Brother Gary told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 8 telephone interview.
A priest guided him to a spiritual director who at the time was planning on doing a film on spiritual encounters. The spiritual director encouraged Brother Gary to keep a journal and eventually write a book. The manuscript was sent to Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony [Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles] for theological review prior to its publication last November by the Servants of the Father of Mercy.
When people read his book, it helps them to connect the stories and dreams they have had in their life, Brother Gary told CNS. "They never knew how to interpret them."
There was a woman who had told him of her dream about her deceased husband, who was wandering helplessly and in need of her prayers. The book helped her understand the dream, he said.
Saying people have a fear of death, "a fear of dying," and they remain in the dark about it, Brother Gary said he hopes his book will trigger hope for people.
"This (book) shows there is proof of the afterlife and what you do in this life will affect you in the next life," he said. In the few months his book has been out, Brother Gary said he has already seen its effect on families in three cases. One family ordered 16 copies to be handed out to other family members and friends.
He believes the book can help people who have a terminal illness, referring to his mother and a cousin, who both fought cancer. "It's a perfect match for those with illness. It can give a lot of hope."
Although the book has been well-received by many, including Cardinal Mahony and the head of the Eternal Word Television Network, Brother Gary sometimes worries people will take it the wrong way.
"I still wonder if people are ready to hear this, that God is talking with us," he said.
When asked by CNS how one can tell if an encounter is from God, one's self or the devil, he offered two basic filters to distinguish the difference. He said the first is that the dream, vision or physical encounter will inspire greater acts of charity. Secondly, he said, the experience would increase the person's faith.
Sometimes a person can encounter the devil, he said, but when one says, "Jesus is Lord," the devil will dispel. Since Christmas 2010, "Proof of the Afterlife -- The Conversation Continues" ($19.95, softcover) is being sold by Barnes and Noble in its stores nationwide and online.Brother Gary said BookMasters also plans to stock the book in its national warehouse in Ashland, Ohio, promoting it to clients such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor and their retail outlet, AtlasBooks.
"All proceeds of the book are going to Servants of the Father of Mercy congregation serving homeless men, women, and children in America with food, water, clothing, blankets and spiritual supplies," said Brother Gary.
The Servants follow the Rule of St. Benedict. The community's religious brothers and sisters take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Its lay members must commit themselves to practicing basic Catholic spirituality and serving homeless people at least five hours a month. --(Emily Lahr)
The book has been featured in the magazine, The Priest - published by OSV, SpiritDaily, Catholic Television Network (CTN), Catholic News Service (CNS) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Mediatrix Radio, The Archbishop's Hour - Archdiocese of San Francisco, Archbishop George H. Niederauer, WBZL Jordan Rich Show - Boston, Nite Line - Greenvile, SC and many others. Nationwide, it has been loved and reviewed by cardinals, bishops, monsignors, priests and laity.
Br. Gary Joseph is the founder of Servants of the Father of Mercy, a Private Association serving the homeless in America in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
I was captivated by the book to the point that I did not want it to end. It was hard to put down. It brought back a lot of my own personal memories and helped make some spiritual order out of them. There was a sense that I was talking with the Lord and the message was so crystal clear and easy to understand. I would recommend Proof of the Afterlife by Br. Gary Joseph for all ages. We need more books and authors like this. Msgr. Joseph C.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW: 5 STARS!
For thirty minutes, Gary Joseph was dead. ‘Proof of the Afterlife’ is a Christian and devotional tale as Brother Gary Joseph offers his own testimony to the existence of the afterlife, as he relays his story of his death and return to the world of the living, saying that there is something after and to remember that no one is gone for good, that they wait on the other side. Of metaphysical and Christian interest, 'Proof of the Afterlife' is very much worth considering for anyone looking for tales of real people's brushes with the afterlife. The Midwest Book Review, May, 2011.
ADDITIONAL COPIES PLEASE
Having read Proof of the Afterlife, I would like to order additional copies  for our church. As a priest and psychologist, I can truly relate to your work. Will keep you in prayer. Fr. Joseph, Pinconning, MI
IT WAS AS IF THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN FOR ME
As I read the book, Proof of the Afterlife The Conversation Continues, I could not stop myself from crying (oh and I couldn't put it down either). As I leaf through the pages questions that I have wondered for a long time were mysteriously answered. It was as if this book was wrtten for me; our Lord talked to me through your words, through your stories. Carolyn P., San Jose, CA
Your book was a delight. I lost my wife 4 years ago from a brain tumor, she was only 52, and your book has given me a great insight into my dreams and what they mean. I have ordered another 3 books from our diocesan library to give to friends who have lost loved ones. May God bless you for all you do. Paul L., Interlochen, MI
HARD TO PUT DOWN
I read the book cover to cover in one sitting. The exerience I had was one of the renewal of my faith, increased spirituality, more hope and the true meaning of reconcilliation. I enjoyed it so much, each of my adult children received a copy. Anita P., Santa Paula, CA
THOUGHT PROVOKING & UPLIFTING
I found "Proof of the Afterlife" more than just a story about a near death experience. Brother Gary also shares his journey about learning about forgiveness, love and faith. Through it, one feels compelled to not only reflect on what we can expect from beyond but on the changes we can make today to make life better for us and those we love. I believe Brother Gary's book is a must-read for everyone. Adele, Ventura, CA
The inspiring stories in Proof of the Afterlife give evidence to the importance of our lives and relationships here in this life. What we do here is important and has meaning! Through out the book these amazing stories illustrate the importance of forgiveness, love, and authentic relationship with God and with each other. We will see our loved ones again. Death is not the end. God is real and He cares deeply about us. This is a great read! Simona, Tempe, AZ
Br. Gary's account of his "Afterlife" experience is deftly written and deserves the attention of anyone who ponders questions of faith and life's meaning. Well done! Peter T., Phoenix, AZ
A MESSAGE OF MERCY
I enjoyed the book very much. The way it is written is very different and interesting. The message of mercy and not being judgmental is certainly coming through. I have been sharing it and the response has been very good. Margaret M., Alberta, Canada