I was holding Robert, my youngest baby cousin, for the first time when my aunt and uncle asked me to be his godmother.
|Close from a young age!|
Of course I said yes!
Robert responded by spitting up all over my shirt.
Apparently he agreed with his parents' choice... I had been chosen.
That was almost 9 years ago, and at the time, I didn't realize what an important role I was taking on. It wasn't until a few years later, when I started to grow deeper into my Catholic faith, that I realized what a big deal it is to be someone's godmother.
Think about it for a minute.
During the Rite of Baptism, the priest (or deacon) asks the godparents:
Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?
We respond (hopefully) with "We do."
The priest later says:
Dear parents and godparents: You have come here to present this child for baptism. By water and the Holy Spirit he (she) is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.
On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart.
If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.
... and later after the lighting of the Baptismal candle:
Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
Help the parents. Constant care. Responsibility. Entrusted to you.
The faith and soul of a little child of God is entrusted to you!
Thankfully, as Robert has grown, I've learned more about what it really means to be a godparent. Here are some of the top things I've discovered:
Make your own spiritual life a priority
Your number one job as a godparent is to be a role model in the faith for your godchild, and you can't do that unless you make your faith life a top priority. This means you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. If you are going to be encouraging your godchild to attend Mass, you better be attending Mass too. If you're going to help teach your godchild to pray the rosary, he better see you with a rosary in your hand from time to time. Especially when your godchild is young, him seeing you living the faith leaves a huge impression that will last the rest of his life.
Live your faith life fruitfully
The Rite of Baptism also includes a prayer to "Make the lives of his (her) parents and godparents examples of faith to inspire this child."
While making your own spiritual life a priority is good, you have to be sure that you are living that faith life fruitfully. If your godchild sees you going to Mass, but hating it, then that doesn’t leave a very good impression on his young and impressionable heart. It's important that your godchild sees you living a life of faith because you want to, not because you have to. Remember that the fruits you bear from your faith life no longer benefit only your soul, but also the soul of the child you promised to help raise in the faith.
Be present both physically and spiritually
Spending time with your godchild helps build trust so that if there ever comes a day when he needs advice or has questions about the faith, he feels comfortable coming to talk to you. I was lucky enough during college to spend a summer living down the street from my godson. I wouldn't trade that summer for anything, because even though he was young, the time we spent together helped build our relationship.
|Robert's First Communion|
Sadly, after college, I moved hundreds of miles away from my godson. While it's more difficult to be physically present, I make a point to be there for him for the "big" life events. I even made a special trip to be there with him for his First Communion, and he was so excited to have me there.
Since I can't be physically present as often as I would like, I make special effort to be spiritually present as well. One way that I do this is to send my godson little "I love you" notes and gifts in the mail from time to time - prayer cards, saint medals, etc. He knows then that I am thinking about him, even though I am far away.
And on that note...
Give good gifts
I know... I went from giving spiritual advice to talking about presents, but stay with me here! Gifts can say a lot, especially to a child, and they can also be a great way to introduce your godchild to different aspects of the faith at a very young age.
For me, I've made a point to make sure that every gift I give Robert includes something Catholic... but I also work hard to find good Catholic gifts. Nothing is more boring to an 8 year old boy than an old lady prayer manual, for example, so it's important to find things that your godchild will be excited about. For his First Communion, I bought him a comic book Bible. When he opened it up, he exclaimed with his hands in the air, "A COMIC BOOK BIBLE?!?! FINALLY A BETTER BIBLE HAS BEEN MADE!!!!"
As he grows older, he will outgrow clothes and toys, but hopefully he will never grow out of the excitement he has for being Catholic.
Pray for your godchild...
Pray for his daily life. Pray for any struggles or fears he shares with you, even if they seem trivial. Pray for your relationship with your godchild. Pray for his future vocation. Pray for his faith to continue to grow, and for him to grow in love for Christ and the Eucharist. Prayers go a long way!
...and ask your godchild to pray for you.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…” I honestly believe that nothing is as strong as the prayers of a child. How could Jesus and Mary ignore the heartfelt pleas of a young heart?! So ask your godchild to pray for you and your intentions. I recently asked my godson to pray for a special intention for me every night before he goes to bed, and I trust that someday I will see so many fruits thanks to him joining my prayer army. Even more, asking your godchild to pray for you also encourages him to make prayer a part of his daily routine, which will subtly help him grow to have an active prayer life.
|Teaching him how to drive at the ripe old age of 7!|
Not only have I learned that being a godparent is a big deal, but I've found even more that being a godparent is hilariously fun, rewarding, helpful at fostering my own faith growth, and a great learning experience for passing on the faith to our youth.
Are you blessed to be a godparent? What are some of the greatest things you've learned along the way?
Liesl is a 20-something Catholic who blogs at The Spiritual Workout and is one of the Bright Maidens. She has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry, and her day job includes a combination of chemistry, law, and writing for the federal government. In her free time, she enjoys baking chocolate things, being a thrift-aholic, stalking the saints, singing about being 16 going on 17, and making people laugh.