by Matushka Ann Lardas
The spiritual upbringing of their children is the parents’ foremost responsibility. But something that important you don’t make someone face alone.
When we go to Church, we are part of
something that is bigger than our own family. The family is a “little
church”, and families come together to make a larger parish family. The parish
is part of the bigger Church, the Body of Christ. And within the Church, we lean
on others. Each of us has a patron saint. Each of us has a guardian angel. And
each of us has at least one godparent, to shepherd us through things that are
beyond our parents.
As parents, we choose godparents who will
reinforce us, people to whom our children can turn when we are not cool enough
to listen to them, and when they need to hear difficult truths from someone who
loves them. Godparents do this in many ways:
Godparents pray for our kids.
Godparents shepherd our kids.
Godparents tell our kids the same things we do.
Godparents are an example for our kids.
If, God forbid, one parent should die, the
godparent is someone with whom the surviving parent can discuss a child’s
problems — problems that other people might not notice or consider
My daughter’s godmother lives a thousand
and a half miles away, but I know that if my child has a problem that she
doesn’t want to run by me, she can pick up the phone and hash it out with her
godmother and get good advice.
When I’m not sure about what to let the
kids do or whether I’m being too strict or too lenient, godparents are a
When my son has had a rough week in school, I
can pick up the phone can tell his godfather about it, and my son will receive
his own phone call from his own grown-up.
my youngest had to be baptized (because he had to have emergency surgery) before
his godmother could come home from the Glorification of his patron saint, St.
John Maximovich, we contacted her in San Francisco. She told Vladika Anthony and
Vladika Hilarion about the surgery, asking for their prayers. Vladika Anthony
threw open the relics and prayed for John over them, at the tail end of the day
of the Glorification itself, when he’d already been on his feet for more hours
than I can contemplate. John came through the surgery healed and strong, and we
were greatly comforted by so many prayers.
Godparents have great boldness before God.
Godparents are our person to contact in case
For older converts especially, a godmother
can answer all those questions that a woman would rather die than ask her
priest. Godfathers can do the same thing for men.
Godparents hand you good books, and ask,
later, if you’ve read them. They’ll ask about your grades. They’ll
remember which subjects you find difficult.
When the weather is bad and your health is
worse and things are falling apart around you, you can remember that your
godparents are praying for you, and you feel better.
I’m the worst godmother in the western
world. I forget birthdays and namesdays and graduations and how old everyone is
and what grade the younger ones are in or even whether or not they’ve started
school for the year yet, but every week, at Vigil and Liturgy, at least,
there’s a candle lit for my godchildren.
And while I’m at it, I pray for their
And I’m the worst goddaughter, also, but
there’s a grave in Jordanville, New York, that I think of when I need answers,
and even just the image of it in my mind brings peace and memories of love and
wisdom. And so I pray for my godfather and his wife, and the love continues when
their years have ceased.
We need godparents because things go wrong in
this life. Parents die, spouses become distracted, companies fail, friends
become preoccupied, but each of us needs to have someone we don’t feel guilty
We need godparents because we need prayers.
The Church, in Her wisdom, chose to reinforce the prayers of the parents, so if
one fails, the other stands firm.
We need godparents to drag us — sometimes
kicking and screaming — into the life of the Church, and to stretch our love
beyond the borders of our families and the circle of our friends.
We need godparents so that love will
Matushka Ann Lardas and her husband, Fr. George, currently live in Webster, Texas. Fr. George serves in the Houston area. They have four children.
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