It’s my godmother’s birthday today, so I’m going to take another stab at explaining the concept of godparenthood to my rakhi brother.
What’s the point in godparents?
In Christianity, when a person enters the faith through the sacrament of baptism, there is at least one person responsible for the spiritual well being of the new Christian.
Usually, people born into Catholicism are baptized soon after birth. Our parents are primarily responsible for guiding us spiritually. They promise during their nuptial mass to raise their children in keeping with the tenets of the Faith.
Godparents are appointed as a fail-safe – if the parents can’t look after the child, it can become the godparent(s)’s responsibility to do so. The role is meant to be spiritual, but it can also be material and emotional, depending on the situation.
Are there any rules about who can be a godparent?
If we’re talking about the Catholic Church – yes, of course!
One of the biggies: is if s/he is not Catholic, s/he is considered a witness to your baptism, rather than a godparent.
Ideally, a godparent shouldn’t be a crappy human being, but it’s been known to happen.
There are more rules, but let’s not go into them here.
So, does the godparent have to be a relative? Who can you be a godparent to?
A godparent does not have to be related to you by blood or marriage.
In my opinion, my cohort sees becoming a godparent as a rite of passage. It’s also something some of us feel entitled to – for instance, we expect that we will be godparents to the children of our siblings or close cousins or best friends.
How many godchildren can you have?
You take on as many as you can handle. And how many you can handle really depends on how you define being a godparent.
Some godparents are involved in their godchildren’s lives, others don’t make an appearance post the baptism. This does also depend on the relationship the godparents have with the parents.
As of now, I have just one godchild. My mother’s elder brother and his wife had nearly 10 godchildren between them , I think.
Hope this Guide to Godparenting helps you understand us better, Bhai.
Happy birthday, Goms!