Godparent/Sponsors...outdated tradition?


#1

Blessings to all! As Director of Catechetical Ministry at a local parish ay So.Cal., at times I really wonder how effective Godparents are today in the spiritual life of a newly baptized or confirmed youth or adult? Do not get me wrong, I teach parents and Godparents their roles,but truly who actually does it is another matter. I have started to question it and if it is even applicable into today's lack of faith societies we live in.

Thoughts?


#2

I'm a Godparent. I've not kept up with 1/100 of what I should have.

I give my Godchild some money for birthdays, Easter, etc. He is now 19 and left the Church to just party.

It's an awkward role to play, I don't know how to act. Especially since I have no relationship with my Godparent as a guide for myself.


#3

It is not an outdated tradition, it's a proper tradition, and it should remain.

However, parents of children no long know what Godparents REALLY are anymore, so during baptismal courses if they are done, perhaps the role should be explained in much depth? Shouldn't the Godparents chosen be good in faith? Not just because they're one's best friend?


#4

[quote="JaKael02, post:2, topic:289561"]
I'm a Godparent. I've not kept up with 1/100 of what I should have.

I give my Godchild some money for birthdays, Easter, etc. He is now 19 and left the Church to just party.

It's an awkward role to play, I don't know how to act. Especially since I have no relationship with my Godparent as a guide for myself.

[/quote]

See what I mean? Is it even worth it? Should it be an option? But even it is an option,whose to say he or she will truly committ to the role of Godparent?


#5

[quote="LoyalViews, post:3, topic:289561"]
It is not an outdated tradition, it's a proper tradition, and it should remain.

However, parents of children no long know what Godparents REALLY are anymore, so during baptismal courses if they are done, perhaps the role should be explained in much depth? Shouldn't the Godparents chosen be good in faith? Not just because they're one's best friend?

[/quote]

Unfortunately, proper **and **practical are two different issues here.


#6

[quote="Nicea325, post:1, topic:289561"]
Blessings to all! As Director of Catechetical Ministry at a local parish ay So.Cal., at times I really wonder how effective Godparents are today in the spiritual life of a newly baptized or confirmed youth or adult? Do not get me wrong, I teach parents and Godparents their roles,but truly who actually does it is another matter. I have started to question it and if it is even applicable into today's lack of faith societies we live in.

Thoughts?

[/quote]

Simply because people fail in their role as Godparents with greater frequency doesn't mean the practice is not necessary or beneficial and should be abandoned.

It just means we have more work to do in communicating this to our Catholic brothers and sisters.


#7

[quote="Joe_5859, post:6, topic:289561"]
Simply because people fail in their role as Godparents with greater frequency doesn't mean the practice is not necessary or beneficial and should be abandoned.

It just means we have more work to do in communicating this to our Catholic brothers and sisters.

[/quote]

Oh I totally agree with you. I never said the church should abandon it,but perhaps the church should be more strict as to who can be a Godparent? I am simply looking for suggestions?


#8

[quote="Joe_5859, post:6, topic:289561"]
Simply because people fail in their role as Godparents with greater frequency doesn't mean the practice is not necessary or beneficial and should be abandoned.

It just means we have more work to do in communicating this to our Catholic brothers and sisters.

[/quote]

Exactly. I know families that the godparents and confirmation sponsors take their responsibilities very seriously and its not an outdated tradition for the people involved on either side of the equation. It may be "outdated" in some people's minds but there are also people that think believing in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is outdated as well. Just because it seems people are not fulfilling their responsibilities in the roles of godparent or confirmation sponsor doesn't mean I think those roles are outdated, I think we need to step up or game and educate people properly when they are asked to be a godparent/sponsor. Too many people are just going through the motions and not fully understanding all that is involved in the Sacraments.


#9

Yeah, all the requirements are laid out in Canon Law, but that doesn’t mean they’re always enforced. And simply because someone has a letter from their pastor stating that they’re a practicing Catholic in good standing doesn’t mean that they’ll follow through on their responsibilities as a Godparent.

It can be a tricky balancing act, though. We might be able to think of all sorts of requirements we could add (e.g. monthly meetings with Godparent and pastor, regular prayer time together with Godchild, passing a Catechism test, etc.) but it’s not really our role to do those things. Can you imagine adding those to your regular responsibilities? :stuck_out_tongue:

If I had an easy answer for you, I’d have written a book and I’d be providing you with the link on Amazon. :o


#10

[quote="Joe_5859, post:9, topic:289561"]
Yeah, all the requirements are laid out in Canon Law, but that doesn't mean they're always enforced. And simply because someone has a letter from their pastor stating that they're a practicing Catholic in good standing doesn't mean that they'll follow through on their responsibilities as a Godparent.

It can be a tricky balancing act, though. We might be able to think of all sorts of requirements we could add (e.g. monthly meetings with Godparent and pastor, regular prayer time together with Godchild, passing a Catechism test, etc.) but it's not really our role to do those things. Can you imagine adding those to your regular responsibilities? :p

If I had an easy answer for you, I'd have written a book and I'd be providing you with the link on Amazon. :o

[/quote]

Oh trust me, I have done such a role of teaching the Godparents responsibilies and I found it ineffective. If I had an answer, I would not need to write a book,but simply write in a paragraph...:D


#11

[quote="PatriceA, post:8, topic:289561"]
Exactly. I know families that the godparents and confirmation sponsors take their responsibilities very seriously and its not an outdated tradition for the people involved on either side of the equation. It may be "outdated" in some people's minds but there are also people that think believing in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is outdated as well. Just because it seems people are not fulfilling their responsibilities in the roles of godparent or confirmation sponsor doesn't mean I think those roles are outdated, I think we need to step up or game and educate people properly when they are asked to be a godparent/sponsor. Too many people are just going through the motions and not fully understanding all that is involved in the Sacraments.

[/quote]

No offense,but been there...done that with educating people..for years. It is not that effective-sorry but it is true.


#12

[quote="Nicea325, post:11, topic:289561"]
No offense,but been there...done that with educating people..for years. It is not that effective-sorry but it is true.

[/quote]

True in your experience or where you are. NOT true everywhere and for everyone. Perhaps you're burned out in your ministry. People do take the instructions seriously, not all, but there are those that do and that is also just as true as the experience you've had with those that you are trying to reach and have found to be lazy or outdated in their responsibilities. No offense, but you and I have different opinions obviously and different experiences.


#13

I think it’s an awkard situation. Shouldn’t it be first and foremost the parents
responsibilities in raising their children Catholic? If the god child loses interest
in the Catholic faith, would the god parent(s) be to blame? Both parents and god
parents have a responsibility towards the god child.


#14

[quote="PatriceA, post:12, topic:289561"]
True in your experience or where you are. NOT true everywhere and for everyone. Perhaps you're burned out in your ministry. People do take the instructions seriously, not all, but there are those that do and that is also just as true as the experience you've had with those that you are trying to reach and have found to be lazy or outdated in their responsibilities. No offense, but you and I have different opinions obviously and different experiences.

[/quote]

True,but to a point. I speak and meet dozens of Director from all over this Diocese and most express the same sentiments. Has nothing to do with opinions,moreover,has to do with an issue across many parishes.

Got any solutions?


#15

Yes,but this the same stuff I hear all year and for years now. What solutions can be implemented?


#16

Comprehensive adult catechism.

You can educate people about their responsibilities to teach the faith all day long, but if they don’t know and live the faith, it won’t do any good. Unfortunately, for many parents these days, “religious education” means “what time is CCD again?” not “how am I living out my faith and teaching it at home through my vocation as a spouse and a parent?” Heck, lots of folks these days don’t really recognize marriage and parenting as vocations. After all, a vocation’s something a nun or a priest has, right?

This isn’t something you can do on your own…it needs to be a Church-wide initiative. Too many of us have become lukewarm in our faith for many of our traditions to keep flowering. As an example, when I grew up, I had no idea what Godparents were for. I knew that they were at my Baptism and that they were basically like another aunt and uncle who sent me birthday presents. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered as an adult the true meaning and responsibility of that vocation. If I hadn’t taken the initiative to learn about the faith on my own, I’d likely have remained a “cultural Catholic”…doing “Catholic stuff” because “that’s what Catholics do” without ever really understanding any of the real purpose behind it.

My wife and I actually agonized over our choice of Godparents for our son. We wanted to keep it in the family if possible, but all of our siblings have left the Church. We wound up choosing a pair of good friends who are Catholic. I don’t think the Church needs to have more restrictions on who can and cannot be a Godparent…but I do think the ones that exist should be enforced more rigorously. Unfortunately, this sets the priest up to be the “bad guy” when a set of parents are told that the unmarried co-habitating couple they want to the the Godparents can’t be, regardless of whether or not they’re someone’s sister and her boyfriend, or their best friends, or whatever, but so be it. It’s the parents’ responsibility to make a good choice, and it’s the priest’s responsibility to verify (as much as he can) that that choice is in fact a good one.


#17

[quote="cjmclark, post:16, topic:289561"]
Comprehensive adult catechism.

You can educate people about their responsibilities to teach the faith all day long, but if they don't know and live the faith, it won't do any good. Unfortunately, for many parents these days, "religious education" means "what time is CCD again?" not "how am I living out my faith and teaching it at home through my vocation as a spouse and a parent?" Heck, lots of folks these days don't really recognize marriage and parenting as vocations. After all, a vocation's something a nun or a priest has, right?

This isn't something you can do on your own...it needs to be a Church-wide initiative. Too many of us have become lukewarm in our faith for many of our traditions to keep flowering. As an example, when I grew up, I had no idea what Godparents were for. I knew that they were at my Baptism and that they were basically like another aunt and uncle who sent me birthday presents. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered as an adult the true meaning and responsibility of that vocation. If I hadn't taken the initiative to learn about the faith on my own, I'd likely have remained a "cultural Catholic"...doing "Catholic stuff" because "that's what Catholics do" without ever really understanding any of the real purpose behind it.

My wife and I actually agonized over our choice of Godparents for our son. We wanted to keep it in the family if possible, but all of our siblings have left the Church. We wound up choosing a pair of good friends who are Catholic. I don't think the Church needs to have more restrictions on who can and cannot be a Godparent...but I do think the ones that exist should be enforced more rigorously. Unfortunately, this sets the priest up to be the "bad guy" when a set of parents are told that the unmarried co-habitating couple they want to the the Godparents can't be, regardless of whether or not they're someone's sister and her boyfriend, or their best friends, or whatever, but so be it. It's the parents' responsibility to make a good choice, and it's the priest's responsibility to verify (as much as he can) that that choice is in fact a good one.

[/quote]

I agree with you 100%. From experience now, you are right, if adults do not know and live their faith, it will not do any good.


#18

I agree that the problems you are encountering are not unique, but I also agree that they are not universal. People take Baptism pretty seriously at my parish. Of course, I know my parish is not the norm.

I think CJMClark is right that it's really about forming adults in the faith. This isn't an issue that can be "solved" by simply improving your Baptism prep sessions. What is required is a whole shift in the prevalent mindset that our spiritual journey ends with Confirmation.

People need to encounter Jesus. That's really the whole thing in a nutshell. If they don't have that living relationship with the Lord, our catechetical efforts end up being a lot of sound and fury.

Of course, that doesn't mean we give up. We should never give up. We press on and pray that something will break through and a seed will be planted. And we keep looking for ways to bring people to Jesus.


#19

[quote="Joe_5859, post:18, topic:289561"]
I agree that the problems you are encountering are not unique, but I also agree that they are not universal. People take Baptism pretty seriously at my parish. Of course, I know my parish is not the norm.

I think CJMClark is right that it's really about forming adults in the faith. This isn't an issue that can be "solved" by simply improving your Baptism prep sessions. What is required is a whole shift in the prevalent mindset that our spiritual journey ends with Confirmation.

People need to encounter Jesus. That's really the whole thing in a nutshell. If they don't have that living relationship with the Lord, our catechetical efforts end up being a lot of sound and fury.

Of course, that doesn't mean we give up. We should never give up. We press on and pray that something will break through and a seed will be planted. And we keep looking for ways to bring people to Jesus.

[/quote]

Good analysis. I agree about Confirmation. I have never been a supporter of Confirmation at a later age. I was confirmed as an infant and I believe it is time the original order is restored in the West: baptism,confirmation and Eucharist.

I recently read an article by a Bishop from Nebraska (I think,cannot remember) stating he did a long and deep historical understanding of the Sacrament of Confirmation. What he found was that Catholics who were baptized at infancy or under 12 years of age have turned out to be the Catholics who pratice their faith a lot closer as opposed to those who were baptized at a older age. And why?

The bishop stated Confirmation completes our baptism and one receives the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit. In essence, what we are doing is postponing tthose graces from God at a later age,thus in reality, many Catholics simply do not have those graces. I agree with the bishop. Likewise, this bishop also stated that the Sacrament of Confirmation has somewhat been misunderstood and distorted over the years. Many parents view it as a "graduation" or "completion" of their faith. I agree here too. Many parents will tell me all the time that his or her son will soon finish. Finish? Finish what?


#20

My experience, and I do baptismal preparation, is that priests aren’t willing enough to be the ‘bad guy’. I can tell parents about the rules but if the priest refuses to enforce them my hands are tied.

As an example, in the last month or so I had a child of an unmarried couple baptized. The godparents were also an unmarried couple, neither of whom has set foot in Church in years. There is no way the priest would have even suggested to them that something was wrong with this scenario.

One particularly distressing incident a few years ago: the mother (in a common-law marriage) chose her sister and former brother-in-law as sponsors. The sister & BIL had split up a few months before after 11 months of marriage when she moved in with a lover 25 years her senior, leaving hubby with a 4 year old daughter to raise (common-law relationship before the Catholic wedding which a situation with the KofC had pressured them into – story for another day). They now disliked each other so much that they couldn’t even sit in the same pew together and anytime she inadvertantly got close to him in the sanctuary during the ceremony he quickly moved away. The icing on the cake is that she had her lover with her at the ceremony. I wanted to throw up.

A few months later the mother called to see if she could remove the godfather’s name from the records since he no longer wanted to be the godfather – in fact wanted as little to do with the family as humanly possible.


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