I just finished reading the book, Father Joe: The Man Who saved My Soul and it was a compelling read all the way through. I must admit that I was not prepared for Tony Hendra's life story but I was familar with some of his work on the movie, This is Spinal Tap, and his work with National Lampoon. After a strange beginning tale of an encounter with an older woman-he was 14-he is taken to meet Fr. Joe, a Benedictine Monk in England, where Tony Henda grew up. At times I was disgusted with where Mr. Hendra's life was going and the things he was doing as he left behind all connections to his Catholic faith and training. I was prepared for some Catholic bashing and skepticism which he brought out only to be pleasantly surprised by Fr. Joe's words, non-judgemental attitude and utimately his Christ-likeness in regards to Tony. The selfishness which is a large thread that runs throughout Tony's life was held in stark contrast to Fr. Joe's faith and love and forgiveness.
As one reads this book its easy to want to condemn Tony for all of the bad choices he made which,as all sin does, effects others as well. But it only takes a little reading of the Bible to see many of the great biblical characters and saints who have also fallen into the viscious cycle of sin. One must also reflect on their own life and the failings that we all have before we toss Tony under the bus.
In the end, it is God, working through this humble, odd looking priest, who emerges as the champion of the story.The one who communicates Gods love and forgiveness to Tony and a we see in the end through many, many people that Mr. Hendra had never met. Like most holy people, when you encounter them you feel like you are their best friend and the only one who has this special connection to them. Like I metioned earlier it was a compelling read and it made m hink of those people who come in and out of my life who have the abilit to communicate something of the love of God.