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


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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