Do you have what it takes to be a good godparent?
Recently I reread the instruction given for godparents by the Catechism of the Council of Trent. I include the text here for you (emphasis mine):
"Let all sponsors, then, at all times recollect that they are strictly bound by this law to exercise a constant vigilance over their spiritual children, and carefully to instruct them in the maxims of a Christian life; so that these may show themselves throughout life to be what their sponsors promised in the solemn ceremony.
On this subject let us hear the words of St. Denis. Speaking in the person of the sponsor he says: I promise, by my constant exhortations to induce this child, when he comes to a knowledge of religion, to renounce every thing opposed (to his Christian calling) and to profess and perform the sacred promises which he now makes.
St. Augustine also says: I most especially admonish you, men and women, who have acquired godchildren through Baptism, to consider that you stood as sureties before God, for those whom you received at the sacred font. Indeed it preeminently becomes every man, who undertakes any office, to be indefatigable in the discharge of its duties; and he who promised to be the teacher and guardian of another should never allow to be deserted him whom he once received under his care and protection as long as he knows the latter to stand in need of either.
Speaking of this same duty of sponsors, St. Augustine sums up in a few words the lessons of instruction which they are bound to impart to their spiritual children. They ought, he says, to admonish them to observe chastity, love justice, cling to charity; and above all they should teach them the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the rudiments of the Christian religion."
Is that not the model of clarity and vision? Each one of us, as godparents is called to act diligently to raise our godchildren in the Faith. We are "strictly bound" to act with vigilance...Does this not sound incredible militant to you? Of course it does, and the reason is because we have been chosen to be the ones doing battle for their souls and instructing them in the Truth.
Let us remember, if we are called upon to be a godfather or godmother, we must take this role and duty seriously. We cannot give what we do not possess, and unless we first know and live our faith, how can we ever hope to pass it on to our godchild? If we first "observe chastity, love justice, and cling to charity" we can then be a beacon of light to our children and godchildren. In this way we teach more by example than by words and we provide a model for our godchildren to imitate. Once we can first model our faith by our life, then we can "talk the walk" and provide actual instruction in living out the Gospel.
This evening, my thirteen year old son asked a pointed question, "How do I deal with another kid when he is beating up my little brother?" He went on to relay a story of an event that happened between his younger brother and another boy where things got a bit rough. He witnessed his brother take a pummeling and yet was unsure of the best way to deal with the situation. This sparked an excellent discussion related to today's Gospel from Luke.
In today's Gospel we heard that Christ cast out the money-changers from the temple. We heard an excellent sermon on just anger and standing up for truth and right. Yet, when it comes to specific situations sometimes we lose track of the right course of action...do we fight, flee, or flinch? My son's question poses a number of other questions and so can get complicated, but ultimately it comes down to some very simple things.
First, defending someone can be a selfless act. Fighting for the right and true, especially our faith can be a selfless act, and thus is justified. My son may be justified in sticking up for his younger brother in a sticky situation. He then must learn to judge how much force is justified. Being thirteen and tall means that he towers over a youngster of only five or six years old. He should only use enough force to separate the two and no more. If he were to "rough up" the offending party, this would only be done to satisfy his desire for revenge and would most likely not be justified.
On the other hand, there may be times when decisive action involving force is called for, or there may be times for stepping away. During the sermon at Holy Mass we were reminded to use our rational intellect to judge wisely and to not be subject to our emotions. During quarrels and fights it is much to easy to give into one's anger and "go all in", but this may not be justified by the situation. On the other hand, there may be times when we would prefer to flee, but a "fight" is the right choice. In this case we must not give into our emotions of fear and selfish self-preservation, but should courage-sly stand our ground. Both situations demand us to have the manly virtues of self-control and courage.
Ultimately, Christ acting as the Just Judges is actly self-lessly. He is not seeking His own will, but that of His Father in Heaven and of what is right and good. This aspect of being a just man has been almost completely lost on this generation as most simply seek what is convenient and expedient. To choose to follow Christ means taking up one's cross and daily following Him, and has He said, the wise man, before building a tower, sits down and makes the plan and budget to know if he has what it takes to complete it (Luke 14:28). We must first decide for Christ and believe that He has given us what it takes to follow Him, and then set ourselves on the plow, and never look back (Luke 9:62). In this, we lead our son's by example...for we cannot give, what we do not have ourselves.
This question of my son made me think...if our sons are not asking us how to become men, how are they learning???
Here is a brief and helpful article for our good, blue-collared workers. I particularly like the following quote:
"Finally, how you dress, no matter what line of work you’re in, is about more than just appearance. Style in clothing is about expression of the self through selection and maintenance of gear that reflects the tastes and pride of the individual."
This expression of self is of course the expression of our beliefs. Dressing appropriately for the occasion is wise, but always dressing as a man that demonstrates self-control is evangelical. If a man dresses like a child or a sloppy teen-ager, he will be treated like one by those around him, even his wife. So men, whether you are a corporate CEO, a journeyman carpenter, or a landscaper, lets dress with dignity and self-control.
Click on the link to read the entire article.