The Envelope

Jun 09, 2023 by Colleen C Orchanian

I received a lovely wedding invitation. The envelope was very special – heavy paper, beautiful calligraphy, and a wax seal on the back. I knew what it contained, and that brought me great joy. The envelope reminded me of a quote from St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei: "The Apostles would consider themselves the envelope of a letter from God, since their sole mission was to transmit the inheritance they had received. Christ’s closest followers had only one desire, and that was to be faithful instruments of the Lord. The letter containing the divine message was important to them; not the envelope it came in."

The quote resonated with me. I am the envelope carrying the letter of God’s love. Or I should be. And so I wondered, when do I do that? How do I do that?

My first answer was in Sisters in Faith, a group that I’ve been leading for over 10 years. We meet each month, with women coming from different churches, trying to break down the walls that separate believers. When someone comments about how much the group means to them, I know it’s because they feel God’s love in our meetings. Each person there is an envelope bearing a love letter from God for the others.

There are many ways that we can be the envelope carrying the letter of God’s love. For example:

Our families. Did you know that most married couples are not in the same place spiritually? In some cases, spouses may not even be believers. If this is your situation – you are all in on your faith and your spouse is not – it's hard. You want to convert them. You are tempted to persuade or nag or threaten them, but that won’t work. Some people in these situations actually leave the marriage. But maybe – just maybe – God is asking you to be the envelope bringing his letter of love to your spouse (or your child). You may have to persevere for years before seeing any progress. It is love that will convert.

Service to others. We are called to serve our neighbors. When we care for those in need, if we do it with love, we are the envelope carrying God’s love letter. I saw a movie about Mother Teresa, and the look on her face as she cared for those in need was pure love and pure joy. She saw Jesus in each one’s face and I think they saw Jesus in her. She wasn’t looking for attention or praise for herself. Only to give that individual God’s love. A lovely couple in our church has a meal ministry, bringing home-cooked meals to those in need. They are the envelope carrying God's message of love in a Tupperware container.

Our apostolates. We each have a purpose in life – a job given us by God for the building up of His Kingdom. For some this means leading a small group in the church or community. It's not just the meeting that we lead; we also are leading people closer to Jesus by sharing His message of love. Whatever your apostolate, when you do it with great love, you are an envelope carrying the letter of love from God.

Spiritual companionship. When someone comes to you for spiritual advice, you are acting as a spiritual companion. When you listen, you are loving them. When you encourage, you are loving them. When you point them to God and propose that He has the answer, you are loving them. You are an envelop bring the message of God’s love.

Artistic gifts. You may be a great writer or artist or singer or musician. All beauty comes from God, so when you use your artistic gifts to bring glory to God, you become the envelope of his love. Handel’s Messiah and O Holy Night lift our hearts and minds up to God. The music draws us closer to Our Father in Heaven. My friend Patty creates crafts and art to give away. My mother paints icons. There are countless ways to share artistic gifts. In all cases, the artist has the potential to be the envelope carrying God’s love letter.

Any time we share God’s love, we are the envelope. Any time we speak God’s Word, we are the envelope. Any time we encourage someone to persevere in their faith, we are the envelope. Any time we love someone who desperately needs to feel that love, we are the envelope. Isn’t it great that God allows us to be an envelope carrying His letter of love?

We are all envelopes (or we can be), and we are different kinds of envelopes. You might think that you aren’t much use as an envelope – that you aren’t good enough or holy enough or special enough, but you would be wrong. God uses all kinds of envelopes.

Certainly there are beautiful envelopes, like those for a wedding invitation. The paper is special; the writing is elegant. That’s like a Mother Teresa envelope. I would love to be that kind of envelope, but I’m not.

Then there’s the damaged envelope. Once I got a letter that had nearly been destroyed on its way to me. It was crumpled, had a footprint on it, and was just plain dirty. Inside was a beautiful letter from an old friend. This kind of envelope might be a person we think has little to offer us because of where they are in life. We might even think we are that damaged envelope and don’t have anything to share. It’s not true. Anyone can share God’s love.

Most of us are more like the plain, everyday envelopes. Nothing fancy. We try to demonstrate love in the words and actions of our lives, with each of the encounters we have. We may not look like much from the outside, but get us talking and there is a flood of love ready to be poured into the world from our hearts. I gave a talk on God’s love at a youth retreat. They probably didn’t have great expectations when I got started, after all, I’m old enough to be their grandmother. But I didn’t worry about that. I just spoke from my heart and shared how much I love God and what He means in my life, how He has shown his love for me through the years. Hopefully, they heard the love of God in what I shared. I was so blessed to be His envelope to them.

It is worthwhile to consider how we see the envelopes of God's love in our lives – those people who are carrying God's message of love to us. We can put less value on those dirty damaged envelopes and more value in the beautiful wedding invitations. Sometimes we even make the envelope the important part, like when we hear a great preacher, put them on a pedestal and all our faith is in them. Their words tickle our ears and inspire us. We think they are perfect. And then we see a crack in their perfect image. Maybe there is a scandal, or we overhear them say something unkind. Because we focused on the envelope and not the letter inside, we can lose our faith. When that happens, it is an indication that maybe our faith was in the envelope when it’s what’s inside that matters.

We can welcome the envelopes in our lives – those people who bring God's love to us. And we can rejoice to be the envelope for others. May God grant us the grace to bring His love to many people this day, this year, and throughout our entire lives.

Questions for Prayer:

  1. How am I an envelope carrying God’s love? What has God given me to do as his messenger and how is that going?

  2. Who in my life has been or is now an envelope carrying God’s love to me? How open am I to these people who are serving God by serving me?