Inside the hospice: Being prepared

by Fr Peter Michael Scott

Recently I visited a patient who was preparing her daughter to begin primary school in September. I asked her if she thought it was a bit early, but she replied it was very important that her daughter was primed as soon as possible. She had spoken about the journey to school, how she would meet lots of new friends, and have a wonderful teacher. The drawback was that mummy was not able to come into the school, and they would not be spending the day together. 

When I left the patient’s room I thought about the Good Samaritan accompanying the injured man to the inn. Perhaps Jesus wants us to understand that, in that journey, the Samaritan would have prepared the man for the hospitable community he would be joining. The Samaritan would leave him there and go on with his travels, but the inn would not be a place of surprises or shocks because the injured man would have been prepared.


Quite a few times, I have met patients who are not ready for eternity. It is not that they are unworthy or great sinners, but they have never allowed themselves to think or investigate what living with God might be like. So, with gentle conversations and readings from scriptures, I try and act as the Good Samaritan, getting them ready for the journey, the new friends they will meet (the saints and angels) and the wonderful Teacher they will live with.


We must not be frightened of talking about dying or being received into God’s mansion of many rooms. We must be prepared for it. A very useful aid is the Bishops’ Conference website called The Art of Dying Well (artofdyingwell.org). It is not only a practical guide but a spiritual one too.


I always remember the journey to my new school and my mother telling me to be good. She said ‘try’, and the key to God’s merciful judgement, is that we try our best.


Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers at St Joseph’s Hospice.