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BY Donald DeMarco
was down on his luck. He decided to play his last card and write a letter to
God, asking him for $100 to tide him over. He folded the letter and placed it
in an envelope on which he wrote but a single word: “God.”
The missive, naturally, went directly
to the dead-letter office. There, a Masonic postal worker opened the envelope
and read the letter. He was touched by the childlike faith of its author. That
evening, presiding at his Masonic lodge, he read the letter to his colleagues.
They, too, were moved. The hat was passed, and $75 was raised. A check for that
amount was then dispatched to the indigent Mr. O’Malley, who had helpfully
included his return address in his letter.
Upon receiving the check, O’Malley
wrote a second letter to God. He thanked his Maker, but advised that the next
time God sends him money he should do it through the Knights of Columbus, since
the Masons took out $25 for delivery charges.
This story, needless to say, is the
product of an artistic imagination. But it is remarkable how life so often
imitates art, as the following true story will reveal.
Bailey Pinto is an 11-year-old
student at Notre Dame School in Brantford, Ontario. He is worried about his
dad, who is a member of the Canadian Forces and expected to join a unit in
Afghanistan. How does a young boy deal with the specter of war and the
possibility of losing his father?
Seeking a little understanding and
no small amount of hope, he wrote a letter to God, asking why there is war on
earth and whether there is everlasting peace in heaven. He placed his letter in
a ziplock bag, which he attached to a helium-filled balloon. He then sent the
assemblage soaring to the skies.
In time, the balloon found its way
to, of all places, the driveway of a criminal lawyer — one Gary Batasar, who
was very much moved by the contents of Bailey’s letter to God. He pondered
about how he might respond. Initially, he thought about buying pizza for the 26
students in Bailey’s class. But he decided on something more deserving and
enduring. “I wanted something they would remember for a long time,” said
Batasar, who has three young children of his own. “I think that over 100 years
have passed since the famous ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,’ letter.
Perhaps this will have the same kind of snowball effect — ‘Yes, Bailey, there
is a God.’”
He had T-shirts made depicting a
child holding a pink balloon and looking up in the air with the words “Dear
God. What is it like in heaven?” He mailed them to Notre Dame School in a
package with “Heaven” as its return address.
More jokes are directed against
lawyers than against members of any other profession. One of my own favorites
centers on a lawyer who was greeted with much fanfare at the Pearly Gates.
“Congratulations, Mr. Jones!” St. Peter exclaimed. “You have lived 1,028 years,
surpassing the longevity of Methuselah!”
“But I am only 47,” said the
“Oh,” said St. Peter, mildly
embarrassed. “Now I see our mistake. We accidentally calculated your age by
adding up the hours you billed to your clients.”
Attorney Batasar, nonetheless,
represents not only a noble profession, but one that has a supernatural
exponent. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the “Paraclete.” In Greek, parakletos means “advocate.” A lawyer, like
the third person of the holy Trinity, is an advocate (in Italian, lawyer is avvocato) for his client. Lawyer Batasar was
acting in the hallowed tradition of the Holy Spirit in favorably representing
his client to God.
Was it providential that Bailey’s
balloon touched down in the driveway of a generous and sympathetic lawyer?
Perhaps it was. We may never know. What we do know is that faith is rewarded
and kindness is heartwarming.
Donald DeMarco is
professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University
and adjunct professor at Holy
Apostles College and Seminary and Mater Ecclesiae College.