July 22, 2019

Letters to God

In the 2009 movie, Letters to God, a moving story is told of a young boy suffering from brain cancer. As his world grows increasingly uncertain, he begins to write letters to God. One by one, with the “Divine” address affixed upon each envelope, they enter the United States Postal System. And as they do, the local postmaster finds himself in a predicament regarding delivery. As a man of faith, he ultimately decides to hand-deliver them to an embittered, hard-drinking postal worker in great need of divine intervention. When the letters are initially delivered, they are received with great skepticism. But after a time, in moments of great sorrow, they are read. And as these letters to God take root in this man’s life, significant changes begin to occur. Interestingly, the changes may not only be seen in the postal carrier’s life, but also in the lives of his closest family members and friends.

I was once the recipient of such a letter. No, thankfully not from a boy suffering from brain cancer, but rather, from a little girl who handed me a letter that she had just written to God. The letter was given to me prior to a very important and special occasion—the baptism of her baby brother. To say the least, I was touched and moved to be the “intermediate” receiver of this letter and the one she counted upon to deliver her prayers meant for a much higher zip code. When the baptism concluded, I found myself sitting in a pew amidst the quiet of an empty and darkened church. With votive candles burning in the distance, I proceeded to open and read the letter that had been given to me.

The letter contained several drawings of her brother. Some were of the baby he was now, but many others of the boy that she envisioned and prayed that he would become. Pictures of him playing games with her. Pictures of him throwing a ball. Pictures of the two of them together and having fun on a family vacation. And the words that she had written were simply these…

Dear God, please love my little brother.

In pondering these simple words of love, I could actually envision her Guardian Angel taking them before the throne of God, where they would not only be received—but granted.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matt 7:7-8)

As Christians, we are often made aware that others pray for us. Often enough, individuals will find that something in our lives has happened and they will pray that we be healed or have the courage and trust to move through a “rough spot.” Or perhaps, we will receive a letter or card informing us that we are being remembered in special Masses being said. Whether through personal contact, letter, or by the words of others, we are told that prayers are being prayed on our behalf. And yet I wonder. Do we really believe that these prayers matter or are they simply kind words and gestures that we speak to others in times of distress? Do we trust that our prayers, when prayed in faith, really do make a difference? Is it true that our letters to God are not only heard in high heaven, but actually capable of changing our life dynamic? Through faithful prayer, does God really and truly respond to us?

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.’ Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16)

From the examples of the courageous boy and the faithful girl, we are called to remember just how much we are loved by God and to always count upon His faithfulness in our lives. It is true that when we approach Him in faith—especially with the faith of children—that our own letters to God, and those letters that are written and prayed on our behalf will not only be heard, but will truly bring us into deeper communion with Him.

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Written by
Deacon Kurt Godfryd

REVEREND MR. KURT GODFRYD is editor of Catholic Journal and a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Married and the father of five children, Deacon Kurt was ordained to the diaconate on October 4, 2008 by His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida and is assigned to St. Clement of Rome parish in Romeo, Michigan. A native Detroiter, he was educated at the Jesuit-run University of Detroit Mercy, where he received a B.S. in finance, M.B.A., and M.A. in economics. His theological training was taken at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where he earned an M.A. in pastoral ministry.

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Written by Deacon Kurt Godfryd