When a friend asks you to be the godparent of their new baby, you likely feel a sense of great honor. As you should—choosing a godparent isn’t a decision that Catholic parents take lightly! The godparent has a huge role to play in this child’s life.
The responsibilities of godparents are quite lost in today’s society and, since we live in society, it’s easy even for us Catholics to forget what a godparent is really for. The modern world seems to consider it just a sentimental gesture, a nice way to pay tribute to a family friend.
For the Church, however, the godparent is much more. In fact, at least one godparent is required for the Sacrament of Baptism.
So what does a godparent do that is so important? Well, in short, it is his or her job to make sure the child is raised in the Faith.
While this, of course, is primarily the parents’ responsibility, a godparent provides surety for the child’s faith if the parents are unable or are struggling to form their child in the Faith. Even if the parents are doing fine in this department, a godparent still offers everyday guidance and assistance. Additionally, a good godparent is an extra source of support for the child in other arenas—offering advice and encouragement throughout the child’s life.
The handy little book Becoming A Great Godparent offers some insights from Catholics regarding their relationship with their godparents. Some say that their godparents were deeply involved in their lives and were an invaluable support through thick and thin. Others say that their godparents weren’t involved at all. Of course, we all want to be the former, not the latter!
It starts, of course, with a godparent’s presence at the Baptism and with prayer. No matter what happens, we as godparents can and should always pray for our godchildren. We should also try to be present—as far as possible—at their reception of the Sacraments as they grow older. And for all the time in between, we should strive to keep up communication with our godchildren, encourage them in their faith practices, teach the Faith when necessary, and offer support, especially in times of difficulty.
It’s a lifelong commitment. We won’t always do it perfectly, but if we accept the role and its responsibilities, the rewards for us and our godchildren will be eternal.
Becoming a Great Godparent makes these responsibilities more concrete. Short and readable, this nifty book will answer a lot of questions about the “how” of godparenting. A great guide for yourself or gift for a new godparent. Available today at The Catholic Company!