Just a couple of weeks ago I was traveling down Saginaw Street in Lansing. I was DEEP in prayer, focusing on the love of God, the meaning of life, the mysteries of the universe, etc. Consequently, I was unable to focus on such petty things as, oh, say the speed limit. Suddenly! BLUE! RED! FLASHING LIGHTS! A SIREN! Yikes! I was busted. The police officer peered at my driver’s license, looked at me and said, “Sir, this license indicates that you are supposed to wear glasses.” I smiled and explained, “Well, I have contacts.” He got rather indignant and said, “Hey, Pal, I don’t care who you know, you are supposed to wear glasses.” Now, I write this article $60 poorer. “It’s the journey, stupid!” My friend Deacon Richard Savage always reminds me. And there is truth in that statement. As baptized people, we must remember that our walk with the Lord, our desire to grow in holiness, is a journey toward Jesus. There are no mile markers on this journey. Our goal is not perfection, because that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Instead, we revel in the trip itself! If, while attempting to grow in holiness, we set a goal or measure ourselves against what others are doing, we just might find that we’ve stopped journeying. Our goal, according to Mother Teresa, is faithfulness. What this means for our prayer life is that we commit ourselves to pray each day whether we feel like it or not. And in that prayer, we also need to recognize that we might not feel as if we are in the presence of God, or feel anything at all (except fatigue)! It would be too easy to try to measure our faith life by our feelings or different signs. Then we could check our progress on the spiritual journey. We must resist that temptation and, instead, make faithfulness our goal.
I went in for a baptism workshop and the priest said that the godparents I had picked weren’t appropriate because they weren’t Catholic. I tried to explain to him that they are Christian, but he said it was not enough. Is he right? Why would we discriminate against other Christians this way? Well, it’s not discrimination. It’s the Church protecting the parents and godparents in their obligations. Church law requires at least one active, practicing Catholic be in the godparent “mix.” Now, understand that three criteria have to be met. Just being Catholic isn’t enough – they need to be active and practicing. In other words, occasionally warming a pew doesn’t cut it. During the baptism, the parents and godparents will be asked about or reminded of their obligations at least three times. These obligations include bringing the child up in the Catholic faith, training them in the ways of the Catholic faith and actively practicing their Catholic faith so as to be an effective witness to the child. The goal is that then the child will be an effective witness to the Catholic faith in the world. Do you see where this is headed? You can’t give what you don’t have. A non-Catholic can’t share the faith of the Catholic Church. Choosing a godparent absolutely HAS to go beyond who the parents like or dislike and into: Who do I know that can effectively pass on a living faith? When we do this, we begin to fulfill our obligations and keep the promises we make at baptism. Enjoy another day in God’s presence!