Faith, Finances and Final Wishes

Finish Faithful: How to Create a

Lasting Christian

Legacy for Your Family

by Mark Henry

Christian Legacy Press

127 pages, $15

To order: (480) 423-5632

[email protected]

When it comes to teaching about money issues, my primary emphasis has been on encouraging people to learn about tithing, budgeting and the basics of proper money-management skills — with an eye trained on immediate financial circumstances. But, of course, that's not all there is to good stewardship.

It's also vitally important to look further down the road and ask: Where will our resources go when we're not around to manage them? Or, more broadly, what type of financial legacy will we pass on to our family and the world around us?

With Finish Faithful: How to Create a Lasting Christian Legacy for Your Family, Catholic attorney and accountant Mark Henry helps families begin to answer those kinds of questions. Henry has more than 20 years of experience in estate planning and wealth management, and it's clear he brings that experience to bear in this book.

Henry begins by walking the reader through the concept of Christian stewardship — what it is and why it is important. He describes the responsibility each believer bears as a steward of the resources God has given him, comparing and contrasting stewardship with ownership, and he explores some of the ways a rightly ordered attitude of stewardship can enhance one's life in Christ.

Then he describes how a family can put in place a Christian-legacy will, which provides a stewardship approach to estate planning. He gives examples of ways parents can hold a “family-legacy meeting” in order to decide what is most important to them and pass it on to their children.

Finish Faithful also addresses issues of morally responsible investing. Henry appropriately encourages people to avoid investing in companies that participate in the culture of death. While this is becoming easier with the availability of certain screened mutual funds, there may be situations where participation in these funds is neither realistic nor required. (An example could be employer-based retirement or pension plans where the company won't make these options available.)

In a section on the basics of estate planning, he raises the following interesting questions: “Catholic families need to look beyond these basic estate-planning goals and consider special faith-based planning considerations. How much wealth does my family really need? Does God want me to leave my entire estate to my family or is he calling me to provide financial support to worthy Catholic ministries? What impact would a large inheritance have on the character formation and initiative of my children?“

Henry moves on to discuss the issue of health care directives and the growing acceptance of euthanasia in our society. I found myself personally relating to Henry's discussion, as my father passed away a few months ago and we were confronted with some of the end-of-life issues Henry speaks of in these pages.

The author shares his own touching story about his father's later years — including his coming back to the faith in the midst of his physical suffering. He notes how society's openness to hastening death through euthanasia can take away precious time God might have used to bring reconciliation to the victim. The recent events surrounding Terri Schiavo should also provide impetus for us to all make our plans clear for our family members — plans that are true to our Catholic faith.

The whole end-of-life health care area is a difficult and complicated one, as our family experienced with my father. (Incidental to the present discussion, I found the National Catholic Bioethics Center to be of immense help during my own father's last days. This would be an invaluable resource for anyone dealing with a dying family member; see the center's Web site at

In Finish Faithful, Mark Henry has provided a great service to Catholic families. He's put together a resource that will help make the sometimes-difficult decisions around end-of-life issues a little easier. And he's outlined a balanced, biblical model of truly Christian stewardship. You might say the book is a smart investment.

Phil Lenahan is director of finance at Catholic Answers in El Cajon, California.