by Fr Peter Michael Scott

In his recent visit to Ireland, Pope Francis said that, while technology had merit and could bring people together if used with ‘moderation and prudence’, it could also be guilty of ‘imprisoning us in a virtual reality and isolating us from the very relationships that challenge us to grow to our full potential in communion with others’. He suggested that when people use their phones while at the family dinner table, they ‘sort of go into an orbit’ which takes them away ‘from a concrete reality to a sort of fuzzy drink area without substance’ and he encouraged everyone to ‘be careful’. Wise words indeed.

A while ago I visited a patient who had hitched up a laptop in his room with all sorts of attachments and gizmos. It was very striking and I asked him what they were for. ‘Father,’ he said, ‘you are going to like them.’ With appliances and contraptions, he explained that he was able to record his favourite television programmes, tune into the Grotto at Lourdes, download daily Mass from a friend’s parish in the United States, and leave a recorded video message for those trying to FaceTime him if he was busy.

I assumed that when he meant ‘busy’ it would be to do with visits from hospice staff or relatives. I was wrong. His notion of ‘busy’ was when he was praying.
He explained that in the old days he had no power over television or the telephone. He would use scheduled programmes as an excuse and distraction from praying, or he would hope that the telephone would interrupt him when he was. Now, with all this modern technology, he was able to record programmes and come back to them after prayer, to see Mass from his bedside at any time, and have access to Our Lady’s Shrine in Lourdes. He has used technology to help him create time to pray, not to let it control or interrupt him. He has used it with ‘moderation and prudence’. I think Pope Francis would be very impressed.

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