Last Sunday, we came together and celebrated the Nativity of our Lord, the birthday of peace. Today, on the Octave of Christmas, the Church gives us a Solemnity to celebrate Mary, the Mother of God.
Mary the one who leads us to Jesus, and Jesus leads us back to his Mother, for without Mary’s obedience to God’s will, there would be no Emanuel, no Prince of Peace.
The Church confesses Mary to be truly the “Mother of God” (CCC 495), the Mother of Jesus, who is both fully human and divine…one person, two natures.
However, some 1600 years ago, there was a major disagreement within the Church on whether or not Mary should be referenced as the Mother of God or simply the Mother of Jesus.
A priest was preaching about Mary and referred to her as Theotokos, which means God bearer, thus, the Mother of God. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, was present and he publicly corrected the priest that he was in error, that Mary, is the Mother of Jesus. While Nestorius and other Christians followed this thinking, it was not the teaching of Rome. Basically Nestorius believed and taught that Jesus was two persons, human and divine, and not one person having two natures.
Long story short, to clarify the Church’s teaching, Pope Celestine called the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Nestorius was shot down, sent home packing. The Church formally decreed that was already known, believed and divinely revealed, that Mary is the Holy Mother of God. (The first Marian Dogmas of the Church.)
There is no greater honor, no greater title than we can give to Mary than to refer to her as Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
In our human way of thinking, we tend to assign titles to people of authority and to job descriptions, a vocation. The title reflects a measure of responsibility.
We have: .President, Mayor, Diplomat, Manager, Bishop, Cardinal…
We have: …Coach, Policeman, Nurse, Administrator, Priest, Sister, Minister…
Of course, the greatest titles are Mother and Father…better yet, Mom and Dad…and a very close second is that of being a godparent. Tittles that require the love, mercy, teaching, discipline, mentoring. And, being a godparent brings about great responsibility in raising a child of God in the faith of the Church.
My wife and I teach the baptism preparation / formation class here at our Lady of the Lake. In doing so, a portion of the class discusses the qualifications and the role responsibilities of the godparents. If the godparents to be live in the area, they are asked to attend the preparation class as well.
Many times the couples are still trying to decide on choosing who they wish to ask to be their child godparent(s).
If most cases, parents choose someone to be a godparent based on the closeness of the relationship rather than on the maturity of the candidate’s Catholic faith. Parents tend to prefer a friend or relative to a mature Catholic.
Godparenting has become more of just an honorary title than a responsibility.
There is little or no expectations associated with it.
Choosing suitable godparents is often a difficult decision. There are many competing factors that play into the decision; desire to forge family bonds or deepen friendships…wishing to avoid hurt feelings…trying to satisfy the opinions of others.
However, the ultimate factors in choosing a godparent should be whether or not the person can actually perform the job, which requires (at a minimum)
- A baptized, confirmed Catholic adult (+16) who is actively practicing the faith
- And will pray for and support by word and example the Catholic formation of his or her godchild
Godparents speak the “yes” by proxy for the godchild and as witnesses to the joy of relationship with God.
Godparents should be present in their godchild’s life so that they can assist in child’s Catholic upbringing and be true to the promises made on behalf of the child at baptism.
Parents…that means when your child asks their godparent if he/she should go to mass, the godparent is supposed to say, “Yes.” Likewise, godparents need to be a good example of a Catholic who regularly attends mass.
It also means that when your child goes to his/her godparent and asks what he thinks about abortion, or sex outside of marriage, or some other moral issue, the godparent is supposed to support (in words and deeds) the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Choosing godparents for your child doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. Look among your family and friends who are actively practicing their Catholic faith. A married practicing catholic couple is an excellent choice.
Ideally, godparents should be present in the child’s developmental growth, church activities, extracurricular activities, and spiritual formation? Godparents’ spiritual life need to include praying for their godchild.
As a godparent, your title is more than honor. It is a covenant with God to ensure the child is raised in the faith, so he/she can say “Yes” to the will of God…just like Mary.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
…That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.