How Do We Choose Godparents for Our Children?
We choose practicing Catholics. Period.
Some of our kids have aunts and uncles for godparents, most have married or single friends as godparents. But, really, what we are looking for are two people who will pray for, and set a good example for, our child.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
1255 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.55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).56 The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
The Code of Canon Law says:
SPONSORSCan. 872 Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.Can. 873 There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.Can. 874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.§2. A baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism.
So, we've been really careful not to view the office of godparents as a way to honor a family member, or uphold any particular family tradition, or align our children with someone important. According to canon law, we COULD choose one "witness" godparent who is a non-Catholic christian. But we haven't done that, because our goal is to choose other Catholics that we trust to help us guide our child to grow to be a good Catholic.
Of course, we can't tell the future, and there's no way to guarantee that someone that we choose, who might be a practicing Catholic at the time, will continue to be a practicing Catholic. All we can do is our best.
But, like I said, our goal is to find godparents who will pray for our children, and be a good example to them, in whatever is their vocation and state of life. Some of our kids have godparents who live locally and come to their birthday parties and take them on special outings, some have godparents who are out of town and send gifts at Christmas, some have godparents who are busy raising their own big families, Anita's godfather is a monk, so we don't see him very often . . . but I'm confident that all of my kids' godparents pray for them often. And that's what I really want.
How Do We Support Our Godchildren?
Given my answer to the other question, it won't surprise you that the main thing we do is . . . pray for them.
We remember them in prayer, and offer rosaries and Mass intentions for them.
When we go on pilgrimages, we get them each a small gift, and pray for them at our destination.
We send them a small gift or an email or video message to commemorate their baptism days and birthdays (mostly, when I'm on top of things and remember to do it) and I have a continuing Christmas gift that I add to each year for each godchild. For one, it's a charm bracelet. For the rest, I'm working on a Fontanini Nativity Set for each. I think it's a good choice for boys and girls, and something they'll hopefully be able to use and enjoy every Christmas for the rest of their lives.
The Fontanini pieces are good quality, with lots of detail, but they are made of resin and are virtually indestructible. (This isn't a sponsored post, I just think they're great.) The baby Jesus is small enough to get lost or be a choking hazard, but they're not going to break him. Each piece is less than twenty dollars, and I can often find buy one get one deals before Christmas, or buy sets and split the pieces up between kids or between years.
You could make yourself a spreadsheet if you're into that sort of thing, but I keep a running note on my iPad, with the name of each godchild, and which pieces of the nativity they already have. First they get a baby Jesus, then Mary, then Joseph, then the stable, then the angel, then each of the wisemen, then a shepherd, then some animals, etc.
By the time they're grown, they'll have a set that looks about like this:
And, if they choose, they can continue to add to it until it gets completely out of control:
I've heard of other families who do an add a pearl necklace, or other things like that. But this is what WE do, and I've found it to be popular with our godchildren and manageable for me to remember and execute. If you've got other ideas, please share them in the comments!
And join me in welcoming our newest little Catholic.