Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 22, 2011

When Things Warm Up

A sure sign of spring around here is the appearance of the neatly dressed men and women who go from door to door asking whether or not  one has found Jesus.  They are always polite.  I used to tell them politely that I was not interested; that I wasn’t aware Jesus had been lost.  May she rest in peace, my first wife Sheila told me that was not necessary.  I should simply tell them I was a Catholic and there let the matter rest.

I did, but they kept coming back.  As predictable as dandelions they would appear some nice Saturday or Sunday morning, the men in suits and ties, the women in modest dresses (you must remember them, modest dresses, suits and ties) strolling along the street, walking up to each door; a slow tide advancing.  Sometimes there would be a youngster or two toddling along, holding the hand of Mom or Dad.

They always carry little pamphlets, don’t they, tracts, hand-outs in their purse or brief case and offer them to each one they meet, or at each door opened to their smiling faces.  They way they look, the little groups walking along, the small families out for a stroll is right out of the 1950’s to me, a scene that could have appeared in a Rockwell illustration in the Saturday Evening Post.

On one occasion, after having turned them away for years, I decided to invite them into the house; two young men from the LDS church.  It was a warm, sunny day.  I was outside doing something or other when they approached.  Dressed in their black suits I thought it must have been very hot work.  Figuring they had miles to go and might enjoy a sit-down I asked them to come inside.

When they were seated and drinking my coffee I asked them to tell me what they wanted to say to me, and listened to them.  Then I asked them a few questions about things in their talewhich puzzled me.  They could not answer.

Had it not been given to them to discuss, I asked, and suggested that they might want to find out and return.  Well, in any event we had had a very interesting discussion over some coffee and.  I have since then never been bothered.  I don’t know why.  I have stopped trying to figure out the reason.

On another occasion I encountered two women near St. Christopher’s.  These were Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Since I was just dawdling along the street I stopped and spent some time with them after they politely said hello and asked me “The Question”.  In response I turned and pointed to the church.  “He’s there,” I said.

One of the women said, “I was a Catholic, and I went to a Catholic school until the 6th grade.”  What passed through my mind when she said that was the kind of instruction I got in something called unarmed self-defense when I was in Basic Agent Training School.  We were actually given instruction and taught techniques in taking away a weapon..a gun or knife…from someone who was holding it on us.  I laugh, now, thinking how that was merely a prescription for getting oneself  killed.  The best way is to avoid the very possibility of such a situation ever happening, I determined…as did the rest of the fellows training with me.

“You have learned enough to get yourself into trouble,” I told the nice lady, as thoughts of that flimsy training in “self-defense” ran through my mind.  “Do you think six years as a child was all you needed to know who you are, and who God is?”  She looked shocked, since she had rather proudly proclaimed her Catholic bona fides to me.  Once again I pointed to the church and said, “He is there.”  Then I excused myself and walked on.

I have since wondered how many of our brothers and sisters who have left the Church have stumbled into places like that.  How many of them have come to my door.   They are good people, I have no doubt, but they are missing so much, so much.  I wish they would knock on the door when things warm up.  I have something to tell them.  I’d begin by saying, “I know where Jesus is.  You seem to have misplaced Him.  Come inside and let’s talk about that.”

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Responses

  1. I really like this one, Peter. Just don’t ask me wny I like it.

    • OK, I won’t, and thanks.

  2. AH, Peter… You remind me of my dear departed Saintly father, Frank Bolen. He, too, on occasion, would invite the itinerant evangelist in to talk. And like you, would ask questions that left them perplexed. Actually, it was quite informative as I was allowed to stay to listen to the conversation…

    My brother Thomas responded more like the dearly departed Sheila… EXCEPT – he told them he was a Satanist. They NEVER came back. (The rapscallion!!!)

    Personally, I favor your response asking if 6 years was enough time to make a decision or to have learned enough to do so.

    • Thank you, Rpsemary. I remember your father with affection. He was a good man. There are quite an awful lot of “6 year olds” in circulation, now, who do not understand. They are lost in the woods and become victims of their own ignorance. I suppose all of the reason behind the Catholics Come Home campaign is to form search parties and help them find their way back. We might measure our success in that area by watching the numbers for shows such as The View fall.


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