So I am learning that everyone has a godparent—or two, or five, or twenty. When someone tells me this, it usually sparks a conversation about religion and as of late, I have been mildly surprised that most people who have “godparents” are Baptists, Jews, or even agnostics. Of course, the title of godparent is completely arbitrary to these folks but I suppose they can call people whatever they’d like. My beef is with what a godparent actually entails. I am reading more and more articles on secular parenting blogs about the roles of these godparents and am left wide eyed in disbelief. If you think modern culture is good at taking the “Christ” out of Christmas, then hold on to your hats because the “God” in godparenting is, to most, a thing of the past.
I am embarrassed to admit that growing up I thought a godparent was just someone in your family who you saw every now and again, and called them, well, your godparent. Neither my husband’s nor my godparents had anything to do with our faith. In fact, out of the four of them, none are practicing Catholics. Of course, our parents were in very different places in their spiritual journey and I believe my mom would have chosen differently had she had me when her faith was more mature. What is the choosing process? Close family members, best friends, members of your wedding party? To most, if you have a child, you can pick whoever your heart desires and call them godparent and probably expect some extra gifts and free babysitting. Is that not the same thing as a friend, or an honorary aunt or uncle? Especially if you are Catholic, I encourage you to think long and hard about choosing godparents for your child, or reflect on your role as a godparent to another little soul. Who will help your child on his or her path to sainthood? Who will encourage them to pray and study their faith? Actually those are trick questions because the answer to both is first and foremost the parents! But it takes a village, right? Growing in faith is no different. The Catechism is clear, “For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life.55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).56 The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.” 1255
I don’t feel qualified to speak on the differences each sect of Christianity has regarding godparents—I can only say this: As Catholics, we are called to grow in holiness and as a godparent, that is your primary role. I mentioned briefly in my first post that those who live and speak their Catholic faith are often referred to as bigots. If you come from a family where your siblings or cousins are the expected godparents, but none of them are walking in faith, then be prepared for some backlash. On the contrary, if you have siblings or other family members who would, indeed, help you lead your child to Heaven then more power to you (and your parents—for raising such awesome faith-filled kids)!
I’m going to be blunt and say I am saddened and disappointed by the lack of faith in my and my husband’s immediate family. Other than me or my husband, my mom and her parents are the only beacons of the faith my children will grow up with which is why finding a tried and true Catholic community (both online and in person) is so, so important for us. We connected with a Catholic military family just before moving to Texas and met them for the first time when we got here early last March. When you enter their home amidst four young children, you feel peace and you feel loved. My husband and I knew immediately this was duo we wanted to godparent (is that a verb?) Brennan. Even though they are moving in two weeks, we know that the bond we have will last forever, and when possible, they will be there (even if it’s over Skype) to serve as a mentor to us and to guide Brennan in our faith.
I have been asked if we have criteria for godparents, or by other friends, what could make them better godparents to their godchildren. While we have no criteria beyond a strong Catholic faith, I found this article by Catholic Digest particularly helpful. For us, we are steadfastly praying for both family and friends who left the church to have a conversion of heart (and not just because we’re out of options for godparents after baby #2)!!
As mothers, we are told to find our tribe, and there’s nothing wrong with being picky when you’re playing with your children’s salvation and path to sainthood.