Saturday, December 8, 2012

Los Aleluiahs

When I was kid, nothing panicked my mom more than a knock on the door, and a peek through the window to see that "Los Aleluiahs" were outside with a Bible tucked under their arm.

Being Catholic, didn't seem to matter to them and when she inadvertently opened the door, she would fidget and fret while they rattled off their spiel that mercifully ended when she took religious printed matter from them that she never intended to read. In fact, telling them we were "Catholic" only served to inspire them.

We were used to the protestant condemnations of our Catholic rituals, our "worship of graven images" and our misplaced love of Mary. We were going to hell unless we were "saved", we were often told.

I was reminded of all this when my normal, quiet Saturday morning was interrupted this morning by a small cadre of door-to-door, immaculately dressed, servants of the Lord. A few years ago, in our previous house, we were regularly accosted by these well intentioned beings, especially on Saturdays. Most often, we would not open the door and just wait till they went away.

One such group was two Mexican kids, one about 19 and the other about 15, who never said a word. To be nice, I invited them in once and after patiently hearing out their obviously rehearsed pitch, I told them I was "Catholic", had my own beliefs and thanked him for the visit.

I thought that would do it, but no, again the following Saturday there the duo was! I knew I had to be more emphatic but I just couldn't muster up the nerve to tell them I had no interest in their church or their beliefs. About the fourth visit, it became apparent to me that the older one did not seem to know much about the Bible outside of his rehearsed outline. So I began to ask him questions and point out scriptures I knew about that had interested me. Turns out, I knew more about the Bible than he did!

On the last visit, I had the poor guy squirming as I challenged him with his own medicine. In a burst of bravado I told him that I for one would never go to his house, knock on his door, and try to convert him to Catholicism! "How would you feel if I did that to you?" I told him that I knew that underneath it all, all his group wanted was for me to start going to his church which would probably send me too, off to knock on people's doors and interrupt their Saturday mornings. He shook his head in defeat. The two never returned.

Either way you look at it, it's an exhausting task. If you don't open the door, your feel guilty. If you do, you are forced to politely listen to their spiel. The sooner you accept their booklets, the sooner they go away. Or you could be rude and tell them to please not bother you. Aye, aye, aye.

I recall seeing a cardboard sign people used to pin on their front doors: This is a Catholic Home. It seemed to work. Seemed to save a lot of time. Wonder if they still sell those things?