Our Children
& Their Godparents

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 important.

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 sounding board.

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.

When 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 rule.

Godparents are our person to contact in case of emergency.

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 families.

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 about bothering.

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 increase.

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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