National Catholic Register

Commentary

Childlike Faith Is Its Own Reward

BY Donald DeMarco

September 20-26, 2009 Issue | Posted 9/11/09 at 4:06 PM

 

Seamus O’Malley 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 bewildered lawyer.

“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.