"IT WAS rather quiet up here today from your part of the world."
"It was this Friends' Meeting House, Lord. No music, no hymns, no psalms, no reading, no homily, no Crucifix, not even a Cross, and of course no Mass. "You haven't been quiet for an hour for years. How did you find it?"
"It was a strange experience for the silence to be gradually taking hold. To begin with, I couldn't put out of my mind the last clue in the prize crossword."
"I know all about those cold mornings when you hop out of bed and put on something warm without stopping to compose yourself. I have a job to get evw a word in."
"But you never give up, do you, Lord? The next thought at least had something to do with the service. I hadn't brought a penny for the offertory."
"You've had years of practice at that, anyway. And then?"
"There was Fr Ian's story from our Parish Mission last week. About the little boy writing six noughts on a piece of paper, and his father pointing out that they added up to nothing until he put a '1' in front, and the 'I' was you."
"I was wondering when you'd begin to recollect yourself."
"I stole a glance at the clock, then. It was still only quarter past eleven. So I tried again. I remembered Bishop Butler as I'd seen him, walking up and down the drive at the Seminary, with his cowl thrown over his head to shut the world out. That was before they moved to London. Then I remembered the Rosary in my pocket."
"That was my idea."
Thank you, Lord. It must have helped, for you were closer. It suddenly dawned on met that you had spent, not an hour, but a whole night, in prayer. You did that many times, I know: but I was thinking of the night before you picked your first apostles."
"I wanted you to spend some time on that. You have been rather critical in the past about some of my choices."
"Dare I say it, Lord? They were rather a rum lot on the whole. James and John a cut above themselves, Peter behaving like a manic depressive, Thomas without a scrap of real faith after three years with you, Matthew who could have come straight out of the East End, and Judas...Words fail me!"
"So you think I should have chosen someone who can't keep his thoughts on me for ten seconds at a time?"
"Or who is so disorganized that he can't manage his own finances, let alone a group's."
"I didn't mean to imply..."
"Perhaps you think I'd prefer a disciple who rushed to the Catholic Herald to see whether his own article was in it before he gave me a thought?"
"Stop, Lord, please. That hurt."
"Was it something I said about motes and beams?"
"Well, yes. It brings us back to the Friends. I should not criticise them, either I suppose."
"If only all Catholics were as honest in their personal dealings as the Friends are."
"But the Friends are wrong?"
"They are. They believe that I lived a life in the flesh, but they cannot accept that I took my Manhood up to Heaven with my Resurrected Life."
"So I must pray for their return to the Church?"
"More than that, please. In the Mass there is provision for a time of silence. Far too often that is all but forgotten in a hasty ending. The supreme gift of the Friends if they came back would be to give that silence its proper value. Meanwhile, make sure you at least use it well." "And what else could they bring?"
"With their gift for listening they would form a most wonderful contemplative order, enriching those we already have, and learning from my Mother. They also have great moral courage. How many people do you know who owed their lives to the Friends' Ambulance Unit during your War?"
"I did Lord, for one."
"They refused to take up arms, but they weren't afraid to die for what they believed. Just remember that sometimes, will you?"
"Very good, Lord"