Sunday, 27 February 2011

The knock on the door - pray that it's a double glazing salesman!

Every Sunday afternoon when I hear a knock on the door it sends a shiver down my spine. Am I about to be confronted with two followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses sect? Will I respond in a Christian manner and also convey to them that they are in gross error? (a difficult double act to achieve I find). Will I lose my cool and ask them to leave?
The trouble is, I just do not know the answer. You see, one part of me admires people who are strong enough in their faith to go out and evangelise on the doorstep. The other half despises the fact that they are not converting by example as Catholics do, or are supposed to do. They jab at my conscience and then it's very easy to send them packing ungraciously.

I do try to be as open and forthright with them as possible. My normal response is along the lines of: "Sorry but we are traditional Catholics and very happy with our position, thank you." Of course, that is a bit like holding a red raw fillet steak under a hungry Rottweiler's nose. They immediately come back with: "As Catholics you don't read the bible then?" To which my response is: "But we do, we read it every Sunday at least and it forms part of our liturgy". By then I may be getting a little fired up, much depends whether the JWs are a couple of meek old ladies or two blue suited horn-rimmed spectacled cocky males. I may then ask them if the Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian faith. To which they nod vigorously in assent. Then I state that they must then recognise the divinity of Jesus Christ. Now we are on rocky ground and they generally start looking at their watches and admiring the roses before making their fond farewells.

It is always wisest to open the door to JWs in case they make alternative approaches
I am not being triumphalist about this; I try very hard to offer them the easy route to the front gate but, if they don't take it they must accept that it is legitimate to question their beliefs.
But it still leaves me a little queasy. I wish I had the rhetoric power of Vincent McNabb OP or Columba Ryan OP.
Maybe the abrupt approach is best. Any ideas? - Christian ones that is?


  1. If one is insecure in one's faith or ignorant then, as with the devil, flight rather than fight- an abrupt approach-, might be best in those circumstances. My view, however, is that one should receive such visitors courteously since "God has put [one] there for some definite purpose" as Blessed John Henry Newman says. It is not our job to convert them: that is God's but it is our business to allow God to use us for their good in this respect. Think of the patience exhibited by our English and Welsh martyrs under interrogation! The aim is not to win arguments which risk our becoming proud but to win souls. In my experience Jehovah's Witnesses are not the brightest of bunnies and so, perhaps, the most important thing to pray for is not the clever riposte but patience!

  2. Generally speaking, I meet them at the door with an armful of books, offer 'em a beer and say, "Let's talk!". They can't run away quick enough.

  3. I live down the street from a Kingdom's Hall and I can't even go to Mass without being accosted by them on weekends. When they offer me "some inspiring words from the Bible" I tell them I'm on my way to get that AND the Body of Christ at Mass. That usually provokes an exchange like: "You want to make sure what you're getting is actually in the Bible" to which I reply: "I follow a Bible that was written ages ago, not in the 1800's by some guy who decided to start his own religion. Please show me where the Last Supper is NOT contained in my Bible." All of this is said patiently and with a smile. I even had a JW visit my blog not too long ago and try to engage me. It was a respectful and charitable exchange on both ends and I would like to think that hopefully, a seed was planted. I wish more Catholics had their commitment. By and large, they are very good people, just misguided in their beliefs.

  4. Patricius - from the tone of your reply I assumed you were Patricius (LC)! :)
    I agree that arguments over such issues as faith cannot be "won" as such but Our Lord did say "Go forth and teach all nations". The Martyrs of England and Wales excelled at combating inquisitions from Protestant ministers in the run up to their execution. And, on the scaffold, they certainly propagated the faith both by word and deed.

  5. I like talking to them. I'm always grateful to anyone who thinks I have a soul worth saving. They're generally good and sincere people who've had little or no exposure to the ancient Faith, and can't be expected to know any better. When they discover that you're also someone who takes Holy Scripture seriously, its an opportunity to provide some gentle nudges in the right direction.

  6. Just to clarify: I am the Porta Caeli Patricius - i.e. P.C. NOT L.C.!

    I agree. We have a duty to teach the truth. In doing so, however, it is important to recognise that these poor souls are enmeshed in the toils of a contorted ideology - a key component of which is an engrained anti-Catholicism- from which they are not easily released. That is why I emphasised the necessity of patience. Having said that I have to admit that, as when confronted by the Mormons, I myself have not always been immune to the temptation of point-scoring against them, as anyone who knows anything of their beliefs and history will understand. I particularly enjoyed their "end of the world" promised for 1975!

  7. My old boss was Jehovah's Witness. It was a real bonus because I always got Christmas time off since they didn't celebrate it. Anytime they have stopped by the house they have always been very nice, never aggressive.

  8. In our area the Jehovah's Witnesses have started using the phone instead of door to door. I think they've met with some very hostile responses. I've been feeling bad over my last phone encounter when I got a bit exasperated by the woman saying: the Trinity's not in the Bible; do you believe all the doctrines of the Catholic Church (Yes); and that she was glad she had found the truth. In frustration I said that I believed what the Church founded by the apostles taught not what someone who came along in the nineteenth century taught who changed all the teachings of eighteen hundred years. "That doesn't make sense!" I said. We parted amicably enough but I'm not sure that I will get another phone call.