I have often wondered time again which is the better way to describe [as well as being grammatically correct] this essential role in the transmission of the Faith within the family. Interestingly this FAQ website about “godparents” uses both terms: and it uses “Godparent” in the section to describe what is expected of one within the Roman Catholic Church and customs around infant and adult baptism.
I don’t much go in for these ‘quick info’ sites but to be fair I think the opening statement is making a pretty accurate assessment of where we are with it in regard to a custom in the Church:
“Traditionally, godparents were responsible for ensuring a child’s religious education and had the duty of looking after them if they were orphaned. Today it has come to mean an individual who is chosen by the parents to take a well-meaning interest in the overall development of their child.”
As far as I am concerned, being a godfather to no less than 2 boys and 3 girls [thus far] and soon to be a sponsor/godfather again at the confirmation of an 18 year old daughter of my wife’s cousin places upon me spiritual /pastoral burdens I probably don’t carry too well and most certainly don’t reflect on enough.
Madeleine Teahan [now married herself so forgive the maiden name for now] of the Catholic Herald wrote about this recently [23rd September] in the magazine and one of the useful suggestions she makes that godparents can do is to try to remember the anniversary of the Baptism of the godchild and make that the special day to send them a card [preferably a prayer card or item of devotion etc.] rather than just bunging them a few pounds willy nilly when the birthday comes round – oh and of course to keep them continually in your prayers not least asking their guardian angels to watch over them and guard them.
OK so that’s covering some of the spiritual stuff…but what about the pastoral stuff? Well I think I‘ve done my fair share of mentoring and encouraging of the older godchildren I have and I’ve tried to be there for them best I could when they needed help, materially or otherwise but as I think about the younger ones I have to consider [2 girls age 12 and 2] I am now beginning to wonder if, how and when I can be there more for the parents as they accompany their children on the journey of faith.
Not an easy one as [like grandparents] it’s difficult to know when and how to intervene [gently] and or make suggestions about their child’s spiritual/moral development. So I’ll be pondering this one big time as I prepare myself to be a godfather at the confirmation of my 18 year old “niece” (she prefers to call me ‘Uncle Edmund’ even though technically I’m not) so that I’m a little more mindful and intentional according to the needs of the particular godson or goddaughter, of when to be the “Godparent” or the “godparent” whilst never actually separating the two – if you know what I mean!
Incidentally, one of my [now] grown-up and married goddaughters is about to emigrate to Australia, so I guess I will need to ramp up my frequency to intercede for her [lighting a candle, a decade of the Rosary] her being so far away physically but always close by spiritually in the Mystical Body of Christ, just like all our godchildren are both living and dead.
Make sure to check this site for help with infant Baptism: