Inside the Hospice: The Good Samaritan and the Royal Family
By Peter-Michael Scott
Being ignored can be horrible. Recently someone I had been taught to respect overlooked me, and I was left feeling somewhat secondary and unimportant, almost as if I was left by the roadside, in the gutter.
Hospice is a place where everyone is important; it is part of its ethos. Everyone should have a feeling of being a minor celebrity or a distant royal. Being royal has the implication of being anointed, acknowledged, admired and fixed with a crown.
When I visit those patients who are dying, I often spend time talking to them about their lives. Inevitably we talk about their regrets, but we also begin to unearth and bring to light their successes, and the things in their life that they are proud of. At the end of these conversations, and often after reconciliation, I will introduce the Sacrament of Anointing, in the past called the ‘last rites’.
This sacrament is beautiful, because it has so many dimensions. It is about healing, about giving strength and courage, but it is also about God marking us out as special. Kings and queens are regarded as special because they are anointed, and so in God’s eyes are the sick. In this sacrament, God reaches out, through the priest, and reminds the sick that they are important, that they are loved and cherished.
Like the Good Samaritan, God does not want to ignore anyone particularly those who might be feeling useless and unattractive as they come to the end of their lives. By anointing, he marks them out as exceptional, original and distinct and part of his royal family.
His royal family are not just in hospice or in hospital, but they live in care homes or are those unable to leave their front doors. They are served by a myriad of Good Samaritans, who share in God’s eyesight and see them as special and important.
Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers of St Joseph’s Hospice.
Fr Peter-Michael Scott is Chaplain to St Joseph's Hospice and the Cardinal's Advisor for Healthcare Chaplains.