I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around a big position that I have: godfather of my cousin’s daughter, Melanie. After Joe and Amy’s first child was born in 2005, I joked with them, saying that I was available to be a godfather. I didn’t get that position. But a few years later when Melanie was about to be born, Amy sent me an email with a subject line that read something like, Godfather Wanted, Applications Now Being Accepted. I was giddy. i could add that prestigious title to my resume.
But then there is the question, what does a godfather actually do?
I really don’t think my faith was fully shaped until college. I went through a lot of uninspired motions in high school. (Not the fault of my Godparents!) It would be great if I could just bring Melanie to St. John’s and St. Ben’s and say “Here, this is what it’s all about.” But that’s not going to happen. It’s tough to help guide the faith life of someone who’s still in second grade. That’s actually a big responsibility once you think about it. I’m also in another timezone, so it’s not like I can be around everyday to talk with her. And when I’m around, it’s usually playtime, so there usually isn’t time for serious conversations.
As with most gifts, I was sort of freaking out on what to get her. I didn’t want to get her any religious iconography gifts because I wasn’t sure how much she would like them. I thought about getting a Saint John’s cross, but I think it was me who actually really wanted one, not her. I’m not a fan of many Christian based gifts. A lot of them just seem cheesy to me. (Case in point, the “Duck Commander Devotions” book for kids that I saw at Barnes and Noble. I’m sure they put out that book to share their faith.) I don’t see faith through Jesuses that were mass produced in a factory. I see it in places I’ve visited and through the people who have given me the gifts.
I don’t remember any of the gifts that I got for my first communion. The priest who said the first communion mass didn’t either. He gave a nice homily about how all the gifts you get on a day like that don’t matter, all except for one, your communion. As someone who doesn’t like accumulating stuff, that was a message I could get behind.
Eventually, I decided on a journal. I found one that had the lyrics to "Amazing Grace”, a song I always have liked, on the cover and throughout the pages. I thought it would work well. I had heard from a few friends that some people celebrate the 100th communion, not just the first. I liked that idea. There’s a lot of time between first communion and the next big religious event, confirmation. So I wrote her a note to tell her to write down every time she received communion. She should write down the date and one thing about the mass. It’s easy for kids to become distracted at church. Heck, I become distracted at church. So, I hope she can find at least one thing. Either a song, something about the colors of the church, or the Homily.
As with most things, a faith life isn’t shaped overnight. You’re also not the only influence on your Godchild’s life. I suppose the best thing you can do is put the opportunities out there for her to grow in those ways.