In the weeks between accepting the offer to be Abby’s godfather and the date of her baptism, I was left with two issues to iron out for myself. The first one – this issue was a HUGE one – was to decide if I could or would be able to profess my faith in God and Christ the Savior. The second issue was deciding just what the heck I was going to do as the godfather.
The issue with professing my faith was no small matter. I had spent most of my life from my early teens until my late twenties or early thirties struggling with my faith. Several conversations over coffee or next to a campfire with my friends helped to shape my beliefs. Curiously, I started to notice that as I lost touch with many of the dozens of friends I met in college, the ones that I remained close to were very nearly all Catholic. These were the friends who did the most to help me with my spiritual journey.
My friends were great about answering my questions about God, Jesus, and the Catholic Church. They were patient with me and didn’t look down upon me just because I was unsure. At one point I even considered converting to Catholicism but decided against it because of issues I had with some of the church’s doctrine. Penultimately [Spoiler Alert: That is the correct word], I landed upon “Spiritual But Not Religious”. My friends were cool with that, including Mary and Mitch who were both aware of this when they asked if I would be Abby’s godfather.
After I accepted their offer, Mary filled me in during dinner on what would be expected of me:
1) I would have to be present for Abby’s baptism at St. Mary’s in Muncie. Mary joked that she was hopeful my presence in the church would not bring down God’s wrath in the form of Holy Fire. I heartily agreed.
2) After the baptism it would the responsibility of the godparents to see to it – in the event that the parents are “no longer with us” – that the child continues her religious education and spiritual upbringing up to her age of majority, at which time she can do whatever she darn well wants to with regards to her religious beliefs. That seemed fair enough to me, especially when Mary explained that her friend Mona, Abby’s godmother, would handle the responsibility of Abby’s religious upbringing, should the need arise
3) Prior to the sacramental rite, I would have to profess to the priest my faith in God and Christ the Savior. I looked up from my plate with raised eyebrows and a mouthful of food. “You have to answer ‘Yes’ if you want to be Abby’s godfather” Mary said, then added with a smile, “No pressure or anything.” This was starting to feel like an elaborate plot to convert me to their religion.
Ordinarily I would have balked after being hit with a bomb like that one. However, I felt a connection to that baby girl from the moment I first looked into her eyes and lost a piece of my heart. For her, I would be willing to re-explore my faith.
My second big issue prior to Abby’s baptism was deciding what type of godfather I was going to be. Based on Mary’s explanation, it sounded as if my role would largely be an honorary one. That wasn’t going to cut it for me. If the past was an indication of the future, I was going to be part of Abby’s life for the foreseeable future. Being an absentee godfather was not going to be an option.
To help shape my role I thought back on the things I had learned over the years about godfathers. What I had learned was woefully little.