When I was very young, my family attended St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Catholic Church (commonly known as St. Margaret Mary’s; or to us kids, “Saint Mag’s”).
It was a parish made up of mostly first and second-generation European immigrants who were, naturally in the mid 1950′s, extremely traditional in their religious traditions and customs.
Each parish then had several priests, who took turns saying Mass on Sunday – actually Mass was held every day, but they rotated so there was usually a different one every Sunday morning. One of the reverends was a dour, red-faced man known as Father Kaminski. My memories of him are rather vague, but I do know that when Father Kaminski was haunting the halls of the attached grade school, you minded your p’s and q’s. He was quite terrifying to a 7-year old; not at all like Father Kirchner, who was jolly most of the time.
Father Kaminski was old-school – even more so than most of the rest of the parish. In fact, he would have fit in very well with a Pentacostal tradition. When he was on duty for Sunday Mass, you were sure to get a sermon full of the proverbial fire and brimstone. To hear him preach, there was a very slim chance you were going to make it to heaven, especially right away. At the very least, you were going to suffer the pangs of Purgatory, which is sort of a Hell Light. You got yourself righteously cleansed by pure, unadulterated suffering, and you deserved it. He painted a vivid picture, and scared the bejesus out of all who listened.
Dad liked it when Father Kaminski preached – he thought the guy was the only one who had it right: if we didn’t behave, we were all going to Hell.
Most religions have used the concept of an afterlife full of pain and misery in an attempt to enforce whatever moral (and even social) codes they promulgate. In times past, this method was used by the Church to retain political power and gain wealth. Eventually the outright influence of the mainstream Catholic and Protestant power structures lost influence and along with it their ability to gather wealth; but, the practice of enforcing influence by intimidation remained, being firmly entrenched by then in the very structure of belief and tradition.
But, is it reasonable to believe that souls are created with the possibility of eventually, after only a paltry 100 years or less of experience, having to then undergo everlasting torment because they “broke the rules” a few too many times? I think not. This would be a wonderful excuse to not believe in a Divine Creator at all, and in fact is used as such by many who do not care to indulge in meaningful thought beyond what they can see with their eyes.
In my belief system (and I am far from alone), when we make mistakes we accumulate karma around those mistakes. When our bodies die, we are confronted with all the negativity we have inflicted upon others through our free will choices – our life does indeed flash before our eyes. We are made to feel what our victims felt…the humiliation, pain, and other forms of suffering they endured. As we experience these effects directly, we learn the impact of what we have done and the negative effects of our careless behavior. In this way, we learn and can make progress in our spiritual development.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, even after we have finally learned the lessons provided by this life review, we continue to attempt to drive home the particular lesson. Our souls carry this unecessary karma lifetime after lifetime, attracting physical experiences designed to put us into situations that will reproduce the karmic experience. For example, I might have in the distant past been cowardly in my resolve. During my life review, I realized the implications of such behavior and the effects it has had on me and those round me. But, not being a fully evolved soul, in the next incarnation I continue to attract situations which will intimidate me and continue to force me to face my fears, when in fact I have already learned that lesson. I’m brave now, and I know how to handle these experiences; but, because of the unwarranted continuing karmic attachment I continue to endure, time after time, situations that challenge my bravery. These experiences are unnecessary, bothersome, and distracting. They can get in the way of my working on other new lessons more necessary to my soul’s growth.
Through the process of Soul Realignment, we can banish this unwarranted karma forever, freeing ourselves to spiritually progress unimpeded. The negative experiences meant to reinforce the karma will cease, making for a much happier and productive life.