In June, I became a godmother for the fifth time.
Upon hearing that I had another godchild, several people asked, “Do you have to take care of all of those kids if something happens to their parents?!”
Not logistically, but as a godparent, my role is to care for my godchildren throughout their entire lives. “For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism,” says the Catechism (1254). “For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized — child or adult — on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function” (1255).
The word “ecclesial,” according to CatholicCulture.org, means “pertaining to the Church as the community of believers, with stress on their faith and union through love, and on the invisible operations of divine grace among the faithful.”
So, in other words, my task is to help my godchildren become part of the community of believers, to develop in their faith, and to be united with Christ through love and grace.
It’s a tall order but one that I would sign up for again and again. (Indeed, I have.)
With that in mind, here is an open letter to my godchildren. Most of them won’t be able to read it yet, but they say that what’s on the internet stays on the internet, so may they all reference it for years to come.
My precious godchildren,
At your baptism, I promised to support your parents in “training [you] in the practice of the faith … [in bringing you] up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.” This is not a promise I take lightly, and each time I become a godmother to a new child, I am reminded of this sacred relationship.
When I traced the sign of the cross on your forehead, it was a symbol of the cross that you take up as a Christian. I have a cross as well, and sometimes, it feels impossible to lift, let alone to carry. But what strength I have, with the grace of God, I will use to help you carry your own cross, from now until the end of my life – and then beyond, as I (God willing) pray for you from heaven.
Being a Christian is not easy. I can promise you that. But there is no other way to live; I can promise you that, too. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). At times, it may feel that you are losing your life — but I have learned that we can always find our way again if we turn back to Christ. Whenever you struggle to do so, just give me a call, and we will pray together.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote, “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). You were baptized into the same body that I was, and that body will always be there for you to return to if you wander away. This membership does not expire, and it comes with a lifelong coach: me.
I promise to love you, to pray for you and to help guide you–forever.
With all my love,
Taryn “Aunt T”