What actually is baptism?
It is the first and necessary stage of Christian initiation. It is the Sacrament by which we share in the redemption offered by Christ, by which we join the community of Faith which is the Church and by which we are incorporated into the life of Christ – the eternal life of the Risen Christ.
Since it is the parents who ask to have their child baptised and who accept the duty and responsibility for the Catholic upbringing of the child, they themselves must express their faith in word and by their Catholic way of life. They should realise the importance of baptism in the life of the family and prepare for the day with suitable instruction.
We have a compulsory Baptism preparation course lasting several sessions at the Ss. Joseph and Cuthbert in Loftus, Our Lady Star of the Sea in Staithes and St Anthony in Brotton.
The Rite of Baptism presumes
both parents to be taking part in the ceremony,
assisted by well-chosen godparents,
that the child is given a Christian name, i.e. the name of a saint,
and that the conferring of this sacrament implies a firm commitment on the part of the parents to be faithful and loyal in practising the faith.
The Role Godparents Play in a Child's Life
Beginning at a child’s baptism, godparents assume the role of advisers and educators in a child’s life. Their commitment to this role is fundamental.
It’s important to choose godparents for your child – if not, the ceremony will simply be a carrying out of religious tradition. Historically, godparents were expected to take over in the caring and upbringing of their godchildren in the case of the parent's absence. (However, today this is only true if there is legal documentation attesting to the fact. And, of course, a judge has to analyze this document and take into consideration the child’s current situation and wishes.)
What is a godparent’s role?
In general terms, parents should expect godparents to fulfil the following responsibilities:
To form a healthy bond with the child and be present all throughout the child’s life. It’s really important that a child’s godparent show an active interest in his or her life, and doesn’t just show up in photos of important events.
The relationship should be one of trust. The people you choose should become like family. Your child’s godparents should be like a second father or mother that the child in later years can confide in,.
Godparents should act as guides in your son or daughter’s spiritual formation. This means providing a firm foundation and a good example. (Sometimes, the teachings and guidance of a godparent are more welcomed than those of a parent – especially in the teenage years.)
In the case of Catholic godparents, this role goes hand in hand with holding the parents accountable for the preservation of the faith. (i.e. keeping God's day Holy!)
The parents’ choice
Parents must take the choosing of their child’s godparents very seriously. This isn’t just about family obligations, nor is it about honouring a close friend. Godparents can have a deciding influence in the life of a child – and your child deserves the best. The people you choose should be completely trustworthy and more than willing to accept this great responsibility.
Normally, it is the general practice of having two baptised, practising Catholics. (usually one man and one woman) If you want to have more Godparents ask yourself why.
All of the Godparents must be baptised, Christian. Don't pick a person because you like them, or they're your best friend. Your child's Godparents are meant to be an inspiration to you and your child. Your godparents should be living their faith and expressing this in their lives.
Your Godparents should be going weekly to Church as should the parents. If not, why are you wanting either, them to be godparents, or your child to be baptised?
Baptism is about celebrating our Catholic faith and being proud to live it. This is one reason we gather each Sunday to worship and give thanks to God for what He has done for us. What has he done? He sent His only Son, Jesus, into our world in order to save us from everlasting death. Jesus has brought us the free gift of Everlasting life- which begins with your Child's first sacrament- Baptism.
Asking someone to be your child’s godparent is one of the greatest demonstrations of trust you will ever give. Look for someone who lives the Catholic values in their day-to-day life; someone you trust; someone who regularly attends Church and is mature enough to make good decisions. A Godparent must be at least 18 years old.
I still have both my Godparents in my life and they have remained a constant inspiration and help for me. We are regularly in touch, even now at 51 years of age, and a priest. Choosing the right Godparents is soo important!