Tuesday, June 28, 2011

He Walks in Beauty

Now Athos will see beauty all around him, and join his tenor voice and his violin to the music of the stars and the communion of saints in everlasting praise of our Holy and Triune God.

Thanks be to God for the life of Jeffry Leonard Morris Hendrix, born December 14, 1954, died June 28, 2011.

Posted by God's Weaver, his wife Mochel Morris

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Welcome - Pre-Death Club Members

This is a place for you to find out more regarding the book, A Little Guide for Your Last Days, of course. But also this is a site for you to find other useful references to deepen your awareness of the absolute importance of dying a holy death.

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.
A Little Guide for Your Last Days is a response to what happened to me a year ago April when I went from being a runner, weight-trainer, and middle schoolteacher to a cancer patient over the period of a week’s time.

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

Health Update & New Review of Little Guide

Two weeks and two days ago, my diaphragm and liver were re-sectioned and gall bladder removed under the skillful surgical care provided at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. General chemotherapy will begin before the end of July. Many thanks for all prayers! I am walking each morning as I pray.

Just this week, the July/August issue of the Saint Austin Review (StAR) gave the following review of Little Guide. A genuine word of thanks to Joseph Pearce, editor, and Geneva Leonard, reviewer:

A Little Guide for Your Last Days
By Jeffry Hendrix
Bridegroom Press, 2009
108 pp., $19.95
ISBN 978-1-60104-024-4
Reviewed by Geneva Leonard

In an age where death and questions about mortality are conveniently thrust aside, Jeffry Hendrix's A Little Guide for Your Last Days is a beacon of light for those who have discovered that they are on death's imminent waiting list. Writing the book while facing his own mortal- ity in the form of kidney cancer, Mr. Hendrix's moving words strike at the core of our being, for what more important question in life do we face than "why am I here?" This book is an answer to that one, big question, among others, and it is a wake up call for all Christians to get our lives in order, both spiritually and practically, before we die.

Jeffry Hendrix was a Protestant pastor for twenty years before he realized that life's most difficult questions found their answers within the teachings of the Catholic Church. His con- version and subsequent life and writings were influenced by the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien, Walker Percy, G. K. Chesterton, and Joseph Pearce, to name a few. Mr. Hendrix writes this book as an unabashedly Catholic convert, proclaiming the truths of the Catholic faith while reminding his readers that Christ, the ultimate sympathizer, is there for all who call on Him. Besides helping answer our biggest questions regarding our final end, or telos, Mr. Hendrix also gives practical insight into the pragmatic issues we must face before we die. Most people seek distrac- tion from their last end, but Mr. Hendrix unequivocally focuses our attentions on those things which really do matter in life. Addressing issues such as sentimentalism, egoism, and the financial struggles left to many grieving families, Mr. Hendrix clearly shows us how not to act when preparing for death. However, he does not stop there; one of Mr. Hendrix's best recommendations to those putting their affairs in order is to go on a retreat where your daily schedule is out of your hands. For, as he so poignantly puts it, "who do you think is going to need to do the bending and adjusting to get used to Heaven-the vast multitude of angelic beings all enjoying the Beatific Vision? Or you?"

A Little Guide for Your Last Days propels the reader forward with its quick witted phrases and sometimes not so gentle urgings onward. The writing is not interminable or unnecessarily verbose; it is as all our lives should be: to the point. The book itself is short, a subtle reminder of how brief our own time is on this earth, and though the prose is quick and easy to read, the ideas which are introduced will worm their way into the mind, almost making time slow down for the reader. Much like the main character in Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", I found myself seeming- ly lost in time, my own view of mortality attempting to touch the eternal, while contemplating the simple, and yet profound, thoughts put forward by Mr. Hendrix. Though you may have searched your whole life for answers to "the big question", this compelling guide gives answers both in abundance and in rapid succession.

Anyone who knows or has known someone facing a terminal illness will benefit from this book's raw emotion and gentle encouragement. Reading this guide during the final stages of my grandmother's cancer gave me a unique insight into what she was going through emotionally and spiritually. I was able to more deeply connect with her because of the spiritual journey I myself went through while reading this book, and I was able to accept her death with much more grace because Mr. Hendrix leads each reader to the conclusion that death is only our final end on this earth. Our true end will be determined by how we live our lives, and especially the time we spend preparing for that final journey.

Though this book was written as a handbook for those members of the "pre-death club", A Little Guide for Your Last Days is a clarion call to all Christians to take up their crosses daily with a generous spirit and a Marian "fiat". It reveals what we must do to gain eternal life and how to live one's life in a continual state of grace, even if death is not knocking at the door quite yet. This guide reminds us that if we are willing to die to ourselves daily for the sake of Christ crucified, then there is no need to fear the final end toward which we are all called.

Geneva Leonard resides in Texas with her husband and baby daughter. She loves the Catholic Church, her family, cooking, and reading.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Little Guide - A Review & Synopsis

William Doino, Jr. recently review Little Guide for The Weekly Standard:

Exit Strategy

Preparing for death as a way of life.

May 17, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 33, The Weekly Standard
A Little Guide for Your Last Days
by Jeffry Hendrix
Bridegroom, 108 pp., $19.95

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

Meanings of Suffering and A Holy Death

+Father Kenneth Baker, S.J., reminds us that Ash Wednesday is reality check even for the rich and powerful in Dust thou art.

+Pope Benedict XVI encourages us to reflect on the meaning of suffering.

+Father Antoninus Wall, O.P., asks - and answers - thirteen questions about terminal illness.

+Bishop John Steinbock of Fresno died, age 73, of lung cancer. He wrote on the blessings of cancer.

+Monsignor Ronald Knox tells us a holy death does not mean that we should not fear death. Or what was our Lord doing in Gethsemani?

+A journalist asked Mother Teresa of Calcultta, "Are you afraid to die?" Here is what she said to him.

+ Before leaving Portugal, Pope Benedict asked the suffering and dying to help save the world.

+Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, explains with simple and honest wisdom why sick and dying pilgrims to Lourdes who are not physically healed, are not disappointed.

+ After he contemplated and knelt before the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Father told his listeners that in the hour of our extreme solitude and even in our death, we will we will never be alone.

+ Pope Benedict XVI says that Christ our Lord wants us in Heaven with Him.

+ Yvonne taught her friends and family how to let others serve her in Christ-like love.

+ J. R. R. Tolkien, who wrote The Lord of the Rings, according to scholar Ralph C. Wood, said that modern people commit the heresy of "mortalism" - the belief that life is an end in itself. Tolkien wrote his masterpiece to help us see otherwise.

+Cardinal Angelo Comastri stares down suffering, pain, and death. We do not fly from nothingness to nothingness. God is in the pain.

+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,

+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

+ 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,

+ 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

What Others Have Said

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