Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Author and friend, Dawn Eden, posted this on Little Guide on her now defunct blog (in the photo, she's the pretty one on the left). It contains the first chapter (with permission).
A Little Guide for Your Last Days is the book that everyone knows he or she should read, but doesn’t want to read. We spend a great deal of time, effort, money, and psychic energy distracting ourselves from the one most overwhelming fact of our lives:
The fact that there will come a time when you and I with all our charms, characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, growing edges, and assets simply will not be here. Period.
I am grateful for medical technology and all the modern gadgets that were used to make it possible to still be here. But, like Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Our Lord, it is a "deferred payment plan.” And each one of us must one day – whether we like it or not - “pay” the Piper.
A few Catholic writers have written nice things to say about Little Guide (below): Dawn Eden, Mark Shea, Fr Dwight Longenecker, Amy Welborn, Joseph Pearce, and others.
If you want to stop avoiding thinking about an incredibly important part of your existence, you can purchase your copy at Amazon, Bridegroom Press, or at a Catholic bookstore.
Feel free to leave a question or comment. God bless you.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Death comes calling for us all, though few people are ever actually prepared for it. Two years ago Jeffry Hendrix, a Methodist minister turned Roman Catholic, received the news we all dread: a diagnosis of terminal illness. In his case, it was kidney cancer, leading to surgery and chemotherapy.The illness dramatically changed not just Hendrix’s day-to-day activities, but his whole outlook. A Little Guide for Your Last Days was written in response to his circumstances, and is a meditation about mortality. Though brief, it is a book of unusual power; and while distinctly Catholic, its themes remain universal. Its opening lines are stark and direct:If you have been graced with the certainty of your own death due, perhaps, to a doctor’s diagnosis of a terminal disease, you are already ahead of the great majority of human beings alive on earth. You know something from which millions upon millions of persons spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to distract themselves. In our day of militant, technologically-enhanced popular culture—and as never before in the history of the species homo sapiens—people want to keep as far as possible from the awareness of their own mortality.It was not always so, writes Hendrix. Death used to be at the forefront of man’s consciousness. Memento mori, the Latin phrase meaning “remember you must die,” was woven into our cultural fabric, as was the supernatural awareness of our dependency: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Today, we still interest ourselves in death—only because we must, as it intrudes upon us every day—but it is a paradoxical interest, one that keeps its distance and employs protective shields. As Hendrix notes, “Mortality, being so hidden and kept from the general awareness,” makes death a thing of fascination—“as long as it is someone else who is being so fascinating.” Speaking or thinking about death in the first person is disquieting, out of step with the daily march of life.This brief volume examines the flight from mortality, what Ernest Becker described as our collective “denial of death.” Hendrix finds the great mass of individuals bouncing upon the surface of life, never inquiring about the fate that awaits them. Their attitude is understandable: No one wants to be told when the clock strikes midnight, and the apprehension death can provoke in anyone can be intense. Hendrix doesn’t hold back describing his own fears.In searching for answers, however, Hendrix recounts how he came to find them in Catholicism. Through the sacraments, he has received peace and strength; he writes about the loving presence of God, the redemptive power of suffering, and the comfort prayer and confession bring. It is a moving narrative, even as he knows that many readers will not share his beliefs. He doesn’t argue with them: This is not a work of apologetics but a series of gentle observations, for anyone open to the transcendent.Indeed, there is a psychological depth here that rewards a second reading. Anyone who has ever lost a close relative or friend knows what the immediate days and weeks afterward are like, with feelings of intense pain, isolation, disbelief, and an acute awareness of the fragility of life. Hendrix underwent a similar experience after his diagnosis, except that in his case it was because he was losing himself and his attachments to this world. He has emerged with a renewed appreciation for the gifts he once took for granted—family, friends, faith, and (shortened) life—for even as his “outer nature is wasting away” his soul is “being renewed every day.”Self-gratification is more appealing than gratitude, and few people want to stop and address the consequential questions Hendrix asks: “Why am I still here, and what am I supposed to do with the time I still have left?” One thing the terminal should not do, he writes, is engage in frenetic activities as if nothing were wrong; such escapism only breeds disappointment and a realization that nothing has changed. Acting responsibly, by making sure you don’t leave behind unnecessary burdens to loved ones, is encouraged; above all, people facing death should never succumb to resentment, or blame others for not understanding their circumstances.Mortality is a delicate subject, and easy to treat superficially. A Little Guide avoids such pitfalls by staying centered and conveying Christianity’s hope. It is also an eloquent plea to break through our carnival culture, and a reminder that we are all, inescapably, living out our last days—even if we don’t yet know the number of them.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
+A must-read for understanding redemptive suffering, or offering it up.
+Monsignor Charles Pope preaches a funeral homily and confronts his listeners - and us: You are going to die. Are you ready to meet God?
+Frank Weathers quotes Blaise Pascal's beautiful - and long - sentence about holy dying from a letter to his sister, here.
+Pope John Paul II on Purgatory.
+Bishop Wenskie speaks words of hope, promise, and eternal life in Death and Hospice.
+ Dawn Eden at Headlinebistro.com comments on the first guide for dying well since since St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Preparation for Death.
+ In 1957, Jacques Fesch died under the guillotine for the crime of murder. In prison, he underwent a profound conversion. He tells of a little door through which we all must, and may, pass strengthened by God's grace.
+ Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, tells how our suffering and dying become freedom, united with Christ in the praetorium.
+ Monsignor Charles Pope on the ‘beauty’ of dying.
+ Archbishop Vincent Nichols in England rejects the notion of a "right to death" as in the case of the conductor and wife who recently committed the mortal sin of "joint suicide."
+ Awesome Marian chivalry in action. His last words were I forgive you.
+ Even the very young can live, suffer, and die in the beauty of the Lord. Like Gloria.
+ A pharmacist who sees meaning and purpose in human suffering asks, Could our persistent search for the utopian, hardship-free world, be blinding us to the great value of suffering?
+ A prayer written by Ruth, a mother of eight who died of cancer, for asking your Guardian Angel to go to Mass for you when you can't.
+ Pope Benedict says that Heaven begins on earth, now. And if we say "Yes" like Mary, "in the same measure of this our 'yes,' this mysterious interchange will also happen for us and in us: We will be assumed into the dignity of the One who has assumed our humanity."
+ St. Francis de Sales on Purgatory.
+ The curious smile of Elder Joseph. The smile that came after he died.
+ On indulgences: by Jimmy Akin, Catholic Answers, and the Vatican.
+ Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk shares his expertise on The Authentic Transformation of “Useless” Human Suffering.
+ Saint John Vianney on what souls in Purgatory can do for their benefactors.
+ Far, far from worthless, our suffering is, if offered up, an apostolate.
+ The incomparable British convert, Monsignor Ronald Knox, on the least appreciated friend of the human race, Mort.
+ Amy Welborn ponders the loss of a friend and her husband.
+ Zenit tells the touching story of a woman called ‘Anna’ and the Pope. "Like the Virgin and so many other worthy and holy people," continued Anna, "I didn’t want to rebel, but wanted to say: 'Here I am. I'm ready ...'"
Saturday, June 27, 2009
As a cancer survivor, I wish I'd had Jeff Hendrix's Little Guide to help me through the fear and uncertainty following my initial diagnosis. Like a modern-day Virgil to the reader's Dante, he guides those facing illness so they may keep their eyes and feet turned towards Paradise.
- Dawn Eden, author, The Thrill of the Chaste
Jeff Hendrix is a wise guy--and a wise guide--whose Little Guide for Your Last Days helps us navigate the answers to the Really Big !uestions. Whether your death is imminent or you are living life on the deferred payment plan, sooner or later that Bill of Bills will come due. Hendrix helps you to be ready for that inevitability now.
-Mark P. Shea, author, Mary, Mother of the Son
(Then) there’s A Little Guide to Your Last Days by Jeffry Hendrix. Jeffry, a former evangelical Christian pastor and Catholic convert, was diagnosed with kidney cancer and wrote this book – a quite specific book reflecting his own experience, on how to approach life and death when the prognosis is clear. Of course, the prognosis is clear for all of us, whether we believe it or not, so this is not just a book for those who are terminally ill – for, of course, we are all terminally ill ...
It is very practical – refreshingly so. What to do, what to avoid, an honest acknowledgement of the discomfort your reality will cause for you and for others, the disruption, the tension – but also the opportunities to draw closer and closer to Christ.
I was startled because the central question Jeffry asks happens to be my question, one that I have asked constantly throughout my own life, but with more intensity over the past few months: Why am I still here and what am I supposed to do with the time I still have?
Good question, eh?
Good answers to that good question are offered in this book.
- Amy Welborn, author, Mary and the Christian Life
This little volume punches beyond its size. It's as huge as the question it asks - and as important. It is a memento mori. A reminder of death. It asks us to escape from the four walls of the self to the selfless freedom of the contemplation of the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Hell, and Heaven. Paradoxically these Last Things are also the First Things. They are the first principles on which our lasting destiny, and our last destination, shall be decided. The first shall be last and the last shall be first ... We are Mortal. We will be Judged. And we will find our final resting place in either the Inferno or in Paradise. It's as simple and as scary as that!
Jeff Hendrix socks it to us like a Bible-thumping preacher, and yet does so with the sagacity of a latter day C.S. Lewis. Reading this little book is like going ten rounds with a pugilistic C.S. Lewis. It will knock you out and wake you up at the same time!
- Joseph Pearce, author, C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church
Jeffry Hendrix's little handbook on dying well is a singularly clear-headed and consoling presentation of a subject we all avoid talking about. Most people in this world are distracted from their last end. In particular, those whose end is very near are often tempted to run to false securities. Hendrix's succeeds in focusing his readers on the things that really matter and does so by promoting what is really true, good and beautiful. He brings them to the heart of Christ through the 'chivalrous Marian virtue' of saying 'yes' to God.
- Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger, Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, author and speaker
Jeff Hendrix has written a pointed and poignant guide to dying well. Whether you have a terminal disease or not, you're going to face Mr Death. A Little Guide for Your Last Days is a moving, wise and witty way to prepare for the final adventure.
- Fr Dwight Longenecker, author, Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing
Death is not something one gets right on the first try, and most of us put off thinking about it until our negligence is rudely interrupted by an sobering conversation with our physician. Jeff Hendrix has had such conversations, and he has written a wonderfully readable and wise and witty little book about what to do when that happens. Jeff takes death seriously, but his seriousness is suffused with an effervescent faith. A book about death that has a chapter entitled "Don't Swing at Every Pitch" is a book we all need to read."
- Gil Bailie, author, Violence Unveiled - Humanity at the Crossroads