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.

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