Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Godparent

The role of godparent
is an awesome responsibility

Since many baptisms took place on Holy Saturday, it is a good idea to revisit the important role godparents play in the life of the newly baptized child. Godparents are also expected to play an important role in the religious and spiritual life of adult converts who've been received into the Orthodox Church through the Mystery of Baptism.

The institution of godparents (sponsors) is one that dates back to the first century of the Christian Church. Anyone approaching baptism, be they infant or adult, was required to have a godparent. In the case of an infant, it is the godparent that speaks for the child, answering the questions posed by the priest during the baptismal service. But it doesn't stop there! The godparent is charged by the Church with the duty to make sure the newly baptized is instructed in the teachings of the Church, remains a frequent communicant within the Church and remains active in the Church. In the case of a child, it is to the godparents that the parents entrust their child, knowing that the godparent will remain actively supporting the child within the life of the Church. Should something happen to the parents, it is traditionally the godparent who will make sure the child continues to be taken to church, and remains Orthodox.

Because of the awesome responsibility of godparents, it is all the more important that great care be taken when choosing someone who will take on this role. The Church does not allow anyone to become a godparent who is not Orthodox, for how can one who is not himself a pious, active Orthodox Christian give witness to living a life immersed in the Orthodox faith? The godparent must therefore be a person of high moral character, and able to inspire the newly baptized to fulfill their baptismal vows. 

When the newly baptized approaches the holy chalice for the first three consecutive Sundays following baptism, it is the godparent who accompanies them to receive the Holy Mysteries. The godparent must, therefore, be someone who himself/herself is a frequent communicant. Additionally, the godparent must be someone who is active in the life of the Church, supporting the Church with their tithe, keeping the fasts, and otherwise living in all piety and holiness. 

The person chosen to act as a godparent must be someone willing to honor their commitment to the newly baptized for a lifetime, and willing to help nourish the spiritual life and development of the child throughout their life. Thus, it is a very bad idea to pick someone as a godparent simply because they are a good friend. Godparents are duty bound to continue giving support to their godchild, even into adulthood. They must be someone who will remember to honor their godson or goddaughter on special occasions, such as a birthday or namesday. They should be a part of the godchild's life during the great feasts of the Church, such as Pascha or Nativity. They should commemorate the anniversary of their godchild's baptism by giving them a Christian gift, such as a Bible, prayer book, or icon.


Everything should be done to strengthen the bond between the godparent and the godchild throughout the ensuing years. They can take each other out to a restaurant for dinner, or receive communion together when possible (if living in different cities). Time should be allotted to cultivate a unique spiritual bond, and the godparent should assist the godchild's parents whenever possible - especially when doing so enhances the godchild's commitment to their Orthodox faith.
 
Because baptism has been called Illumination, and brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, the role of the godparent is critical. The godparent must ensure that the Light of Christ continues to shine in the soul of the godchild. Thus, this role as godparent is an awesome responsibility, and is not to be considered a one-day event. If you've been asked to be a godparent, but are unwilling to see this as a lifelong vocation, please decline the honor.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon
 
Notice: In previous postings on this blog, I wrote that the monastery is not supported by the Western American Diocese, of which we are a part. This statement was incorrect, and in fact our diocese holds a special collection each year for its two main monasteries, of which All-Merciful Saviour Monastery is one, and parishes all throughout the diocese, which are often themselves extremely poor, offer what they are able on our behalf. Additionally, the diocese has in the past offered us additional financial support in cases of extreme need, and has even this year made adjustments to its collections to help bring funds to us earlier in the year. As a monastery of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, we are grateful to the diocese, and to its parishes and many faithful who contribute to our life in this way--whose small but heartfelt contributions join with those of our many other benefactors to make our life here possible.

Thursday April 24, 2014 / April 11, 2014
Bright Thursday.
Bright Week. Fast-free

Hieromartyr Antipas, bishop of Pergamus (92), disciple of St. John the Theologian.
Martyrs Peter and Prokhor (1918).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1938).
Venerable James, abbot of Zhelezny Bor (1442), and his fellow-ascetic St. James.
St. Barsanuphius, bishop of Tver (1576).
Martyrs Processus and Martinian of Rome (67).
Venerable Pharmuthius, anchorite of Egypt (4th c.).
Venerable John, disciple of Venerable Gregory of Decapolis (820).
Venerables Euthymius (1456) and Chariton (1509), abbots of Syanzhema (Vologda).
St. Callinicus of Cernica, bishop of Rimnic in Romania (1868) (Romania).
Venerable Guthlac, hermit of Crowland (714) (Celtic & British).
Hieromartyr Domninus, bishop of Salona in Dalmatia, and eight soldiers with him (100).
St. Philip, bishop of Gortyna, Crete (180).

You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.


The Scripture Readings for the Day

Acts 2:38-43

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

A Vital Church Grows

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.


John 3:1-15

The New Birth

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.


I invite my readers to listen to my
Ancient Faith Radio podcasts:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/morningoffering


All-Merciful Saviour Monastery is a non-profit, 501 C3 organization, under IRS regulations. All donations are therefore tax deductible. We depend on the generosity of our friends and benefactors. You can donate to the monastery through PayPal, or by sending donations directly to the monastery's mailing address.


All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

Abbot Tryphon's email address:
frtryphon@vashonmonks.com

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