Monthly Archives: August 2012

What is the role of a Godparent? What does Baptism do?

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My husband Tom and I were asked by our friends to be the Godparents of their firstborn child, their daughter, at her Baptism. It’s an honor to be asked to be a Godparent to a child, and it’s also a commitment for life! So what is the role of a Godparent?

It’s a response to the invitation of the infant’s parents in making a Profession of Faith in the child’s name and accepting the responsibility of assisting the parents in instructing the child in the Faith.

Especially for Tom and I this is an honor, since we don’t have children of our own, and because we love the Lord and the gift of the Church! In the 34 years of our marriage, we have become Godparents to other children and believe it is a blessing for us to become a part of their lives.

During the Baptism, it is the tradition for the Godmother to hold the baby while the priest pours water over the child’s head and says the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Through Baptism, this child receives the grace of God, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit along with the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

After the Baptism, I held that small child in my arms and as looked at her, I asked our Heavenly Father to bless this daughter of His, to guide her through life and to give her the grace needed in the vocation He is calling her to live.

What Is Baptism?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines this gift of the Sacrament of Baptism:

The origin and foundation of Christian Baptism is Jesus. Before starting his public ministry, Jesus submitted himself to the baptism given by John the Baptist. The waters did not purify him; he cleansed the waters. “He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake . . . to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water” (St. Gregory Nazianzen, Liturgy of the Hours, I, 634).

Jesus’ immersion in the water is a sign for all human beings of the need to die to themselves to do God’s will. Jesus did not need to be baptized because he was totally faithful to the will of his Father and free from sin. However, he wanted to show his solidarity with human beings in order to reconcile them to the Father.

By commanding his disciples to baptize all nations, he established the means by which people would die to sin—Original and actual—and begin to live a new life with God.

What are the Effects of Baptism?

The Bishops continue by showing us what Baptism does:

  • Baptism makes us “members of one another.”
  • Baptism leads us to imitate Christ’s example.
  • Baptism makes us disciples to the world.
  • Baptism calls us to live in the world, seeking the Kingdom in our daily lives.
  • In Baptism, we profess our commitment to the Church’s beliefs, values and vision.
  • Baptism invites us to a vocation of holiness and the practice of charity.
  • Baptism incorporates us into the life, death and resurrection of Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the world.
  • The baptized are to live as “lights in the darkness.”

Baptism is truly a gift from God! It is God’s “touch” on our souls! One that will remain with the baptized forever. In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 43, verse 1, we read: “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, …’Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!'”

So, if you are asked to be a Godparent, think about the wonderful role you will have in the life of the person being baptized, encouraging them with hope to be a faithful disciple of the One who called them by name.

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Tips For When Stress, Illness, and Worry Get You Down

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Are you stressed? Worried? In pain?

Our staff receives countless prayer requests: relief from family strife, emotional pain, illness, unemployment… When we find ourselves in these situations, the number-one question we tend to ask is: Why? Why is this happening? Why me? Why them? Why now?

With my worrywart tendencies and chronic pain disorder, I’ve asked those questions hundreds of times. But there’s good news: Every saint experienced great suffering. In fact, I “met” one saint last week who knows all about suffering, and I just found out that her feast day is August 12 in the USA. I think she ‘found’ me in time for this blog!

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JANE?

Jane Frances was twenty when she married Baron Christophe de Chantal. The couple lived in a castle, but their finances were in ruin. (Does this sound like your life yet?) Jane decided to rise to the occasion, bringing the household and budget back under control. Even during this struggle, she won over employees with her good sense of humor. One acquaintance said, “Even stupid jokes were funny when she told them.”

LESSON #1: Suffering can perfect us. Will we let suffering turn us into self-pitying, bitter sourpusses, or will we accept it as an opportunity to grow in holiness? Jane decided the latter, and so can we! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your suffering as an opportunity rather than a ‘curse.’

Jane realized that she was lucky to live in a castle during financial ruin, while others had nowhere to go. Suffering taught her compassion, since she could relate to the struggles of others. She personally served soup and bread to poor persons who came to the door. Sometimes, a hungry person would turn right around and come back for more food. Why let people get away with this? She answered, “What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?”

Over several years, Jane lost two children and a sister. Suddenly and tragically, Jane’s husband was killed in a hunting accident. Although Christophe immediately forgave the man who shot him, Jane was tortured with grief and unforgiveness. For months, she locked herself away at home with her children. Yet slowly, she realized this suffering could perfect her, and she worked at forgiving the man. First, she greeted him on the street. Then, she invited him to her home. Eventually, she let God’s grace into her heart enough to forgive him.

LESSON #2: Suffering can remind us. Our struggles can help us realize how dependent we are upon God’s graces. Jane’s glimpse of this led her to seek God deeply in prayer and learning. That impressed Bishop (now Saint) Francis de Sales, who became her spiritual director.

When I’m stuck in bed due to muscle pain, I feel like a useless burden. But each day that I live with pain reminds me that God’s grace is stronger than pain. God has gotten me through it. In fact, God and I have gone through it together. Without my chronic pain, I know I wouldn’t remember God as much. I wouldn’t talk to Him as much. So, I am thankful for the reminders.

LESSON #3: Suffering can be a prayer. Our human nature will always find some reason to complain. But with the help of the saints, I’ve learned that my suffering can be a prayer. Jane said, “Suffering borne in the will quietly and patiently is a continual, very powerful prayer before God, regardless of the complaints and anxieties that come from the inferior part of the soul.” It’s not easy to be patient when we suffer, but that experience will draw us closer to Jesus, Mary, and the saints.

Jane knew that people who experienced suffering were capable of being very close to God. With the help of her spiritual director, she began a religious order that welcomed women who were rejected from other religious orders due to sickness or age.

During her life as a nun, Jane had difficulty praying – a spiritual dryness. Still, she knew that this would bring her closer to Christ and the saints.

Christ, who suffered a slow, painful death on the cross; and rejection by his peers, friends, and Jewish leaders…Mary, who experienced confusion at the Annunciation and when Jesus was lost in Jerusalem; who suffered the pain of her young Son’s imprisonment, torture, and death…Joseph, who was at least confused to discover Mary’s pregnancy, perhaps embarrassed to house his pregnant wife in a stable, and toiled in his work as a manual laborer…

Let’s resolve to let suffering perfect and remind us. Let’s pray with our sufferings.

Coffee Shop Present

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Sitting at our local coffee shop, my husband and I are enjoying a rare treat; we are leisurely reading the newspaper, drinking coffee and just hanging out. We haven’t attempted this in several years since our sons—quite frankly—ruined the experience with their sighs, fidgeting and “How much longer do we have to sit here?” remarks. At 16 and 12 years of age, both my boys are old enough to go off with friends and as luck would have it, are both invited to social events. I say a small prayer of thanksgiving for this blessing back in our lives.

Between the social and metro sections of the paper, I glance at the coffee shop crowd. Seated on my left is a young couple with their ever-moving toddler. They are in the phase of life when names are replaced with titles: “Give mommy your toy while you eat, please,” “Daddy, can you give Baby his juice cup he dropped?” With only one, they are still able to manage this coffee-shop event. I smile to myself.

Behind me a group of 20-something women is laughing between stories about dates, work and social escapades. As I begin to reminisce about my single past, I’m distracted by the entrance of four giggling high school girls with wet, straight, long hair all dressed in the uniform of the day: flip flops, t-shirts and gym shorts that look like what I was forced to wear for P.E. in the 70s. (How are those in style?!) They communicate with one another—heads down—staring at their pink-and-turquoise-colored, bejeweled cell phones. They have just reached the life phase of venturing out on their own without parents and siblings in tow.

Did I appreciate their high school freedom, young adult adventures and non-judging sweetness? I have to confess, no. I took each phase of my life for granted; seeing the toil and rarely the joy, and always looking to the next phase for something better just out of my grasp. Jesus teaches us to live in the present:

“But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Matthew 6:33-34

Sitting with the knowledge that several years under my belt brings, I ask for the grace to live in the present and appreciate the blessings it holds. In these ‘“coffee shop phases of life,’” I represent the time when a woman has children at home but not underfoot, able to enjoy a full night’s sleep as long as peri-menopausal hormones cooperate and children are home by curfew. “Thank you, Lord that I am past worrying about a big test the next day, if that cute guy I met last night will call, or if my son will ever fall asleep.”

I open my eyes to see an elderly woman and her husband walk in. He looks like he may have had a stroke and leans on her as they slowly make their way to the closest table. Once he is seated, she busies herself getting napkins and utensils. She goes to the counter to order and I can tell she is flustered between ordering and keeping one eye on her husband. She’’s probably wondering if taking a break from fixing breakfast at home was worth the effort.

Trying not to stare, I avert my eyes to the corner table where a wheelchair-bound octogenarian is being fed by her nursemaid. I feel a lump in my throat and my stomach tighten, “Are these the future phases of my life?” I take a deep breath and blow it out. My husband looks up and asks if anything is wrong.

As I am about to go where Jesus advised not to, I receive the grace I just asked for: “Not at all,” I respond as sip my second coffee and reach for the editorial section. “It’s a beautiful day.”