BAPTISM SPONSOR (also known as Godparent)
This lesson explains who sponsors/godparents are, and contains some suggestions to help sponsors and would be sponsors to be more aware of what their role expects of them and how to perform them well.
A Sponsor, is a person of either sex who speaks for the one to be baptized during the rites of Baptism (and later Confirmation), and after the ceremony, assumes spiritual guardianship over the baptised person. At the font or during the baptism itself, he/she must physically hold, touch, or receive the candidate. The sponsor, thus, contracts a spiritual relationship with the godchild.
Sponsors are asked by the candidate or the family to perform this role, which is an expression of confidence in the person’s ability to be a worthy sponsor. While it is a serious undertaking, becoming a sponsor serves as a reminder of one’s own relationship with God through baptism, and is a way to live into the promises made at the time of the sponsor’s own baptism.
Where Did the Practice of Baptismal Sponsors Come From?
The root of the word sponsor is “spondere”(Latin). It means to “promise” – and is also the root of espouse and spouse.
In the early days of the Church, when the threat of persecution was often a reality for Christians and there was a fear about spies, sponsors were required to vouch for the candidates to the baptizing community by presenting them and guaranteeing that they were who they said they were. The sponsor stood as a witness to the Christian community that the person seeking baptism was truly desirous of following Christ and of serving and loving God and God’s creation.
What Qualifies a Person to Serve as a Sponsor or Godparent?
The person must:
1. “be appointed by the candidate for baptism, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;” (Canon 874.1.1)
2. “be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;” (Canon 874.1.2)
3. “be a catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;” (Canon 874.1.3)
4. “not labour under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;” (Canon 874.1.4)
5. “not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.” (Canon 874.1.5)
What Is Expected of the Sponsor?
It is expected that the sponsor will:
1. Establish a special relationship with the candidate;
2. Represent Christ and the Church to the baptized person and vice versa (for example, standing with the candidate at the time of baptism and assisting the candidate to live the baptismal promises);
3. Set an example of Christian life for the candidate; and
4. Support the baptized person through prayer.
~Who may not be allowed to be a Sponsor?
~How can sponsors prepare for this serious task?
~In what practical ways can sponsor be involved with their baptised persons?
Let us meet on Wednesday 25/01/17 for a special midweek edition to continue the topic.
God bless you.
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