Thanks to fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the concept of godparents is often taken to mean magical beings who grant wishes or make our lives easier. The role our godparents have in our journey here on earth is actually so much more significant so we must be careful in the people we choose to take up that role.
Historical and Spiritual Importance of Godparents
The early Christians faced persecution during the formative years of Christianity (circa 300 AD). Getting caught practicing their faith could mean death so they needed to careful about conducting their religious activities. This was how the initial role of godparents came to existence. They were accountable for ensuring the credibility of anyone joining the faith.
Godparents were also responsible for preserving Christian doctrine and ensuring that it was not infiltrated by pagans. Last but not the least, godparents were essential spiritual guides for children whose Christian parents were persecuted and martyred. The godparents were the ones expected to raise the orphaned child.
At about 800 AD, infant baptism became a common practice and this tradition shaped the contemporary role of godparents. Godparents or the sponsors of the baptized infant were accountable for helping parents guide their children in their journey of faith.
Being a godparent is therefore more than just fulfilling a centuries old Catholic tradition. The real role of godparents is revealed in the years following the godchild’s baptism.
It is a lifelong commitment of nurturing the spiritual formation of the godchild.
How to Choose Godparents
Many times, parents choose their child’s godparents simply because they have been part of their family’s life. Considering the influence and custodial responsibility that godparents have over their godchild, much more thought must be put into choosing a godfather or godmother. So how does one go about this task?
5 Important Questions Parents Must Ask
- Does this person faithfully believe and practice the teachings of the Catholic Church?
- Does this person understand the seriousness of a godparent’s responsibilities especially in the aspect of faith and morality?
- Does this person have the solid moral character necessary to become a good role model for the child?
- Is this person reliable enough to maintain a long-term relationship with the godchild?
- Is this person prayerful?
Requirements of the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church also has a set of specific requirements for people who are to fulfill the role of godparent. At least one of the godparents must be a member of the Catholic Church. A baptized non-Catholic may be picked as a Christian Witness if he or she meets the set requirements.
Requirements for the Catholic Godparent
1. He or she should have received the three sacraments of initiation which are baptism, confirmation and the eucharist.
2. He or she must be living a morally upright life.
3. He or she has no penalties in the church.
4. He or she must not be the parent of the godchild.
5. He or she must be mature enough to uphold the responsibilities associated with the role. This is usually interpreted as an age requirement of at least 16 years old. The minister of baptism may allow someone younger than 16 to be a godparent if he meets the other requirements.
Requirements for the non-Catholic Christian Witness
1. He or she must be at least 16 years old.
2. He or she must be a baptized Christian.
3. He or she must be living a morally upright life.
4. He or she must not be the parent of the godchild.
5. He or she cannot be a Catholic who left the church.
Godparents Role as Godchildren Grow
We sometimes forget the spiritual role that godparents have in the lives of their children. The most fundamental way to fulfill this role is through prayer so always make your godchild a part of your daily prayers. Regularly check in on your godchild to ask about his or her needs and struggles and pray about them.
Acknowledging Special Days & Events
In an ideal situation, a child’s godparents must be available to guide a child during different important life events like birthdays, first communions, graduations and school programs.This may not always be possible but a godparent can be part of these milestones in other ways like sending greeting cards with words of wisdom and Bible verses or giving meaningful gifts that their godchild can use to deepen their faith such as rosary beads and Christian books.
Spending Time Together
You can best teach your godchild important spiritual lessons for life if you are able to build a trusting and loving relationship with them. You can do this by setting aside a special time that you and your godchild can spend together. Make this bonding moment fun so that it is something that your godchild can look forward to. You can then make this simple activity much more meaningful by incorporating a spiritual element to it like reading Bible verses or talking about the lives of saints. Be creative in how you reach out to your godchild.
Godparents have a very influential role not just in the lives of their godchildren but also in the family and even society as a whole. How did your godparents shape your life?
Great Gifts for Godchildren
Great Gifts for Godparents