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Inside the hospice: The Eucharist as a small detail

by Fr Peter Michael Scott  

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details: ‘The little detail that wine was running out at a party. The little detail that one sheep was missing. The little detail of noticing the widow who offered her two small coins. The little detail of having spare oil for the lamps, should the bridegroom delay. The little detail of asking the disciples how many loaves of bread they had. The little detail of having a fire burning and a fish cooking as he waited for the disciples at daybreak.’ It is often in attention to the little things that love is clearly shown and appreciated.

In the hospice, patients will occasionally make small and little requests. Sometimes they may want to see a pet, go for a drink, smoke, or go shopping. So, a dog or a cat will be on the ward, or the patient might be in their bed in the garden having a smoke, or enjoying a drink with friends. It is often in these small acts of living, which we often take for granted, that people feel safe and relaxed.

Feeling safe and relaxed are powerful qualities, which indicate that the patient is at home in what was once an alien environment, and they can relax and eventually surrender into death.

Being small and reducing fear are key elements to the Eucharist. Jesus comes under the guise of a little piece of bread or a sip of wine, seemingly insignificant, to reduce our apprehension at the thought of encountering our powerful but gentle God, so that we can feel safe when he beckons us. If we become familiar with the Eucharist, we will have a touchstone with heaven, a place which we should acknowledge as home. However it may need the small and gentle detail of the Eucharist to help us achieve this.

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