Godparents play a special role in the Orthodox Church, teaching the newly baptized about God and His Saints, about the Sacraments, and about the Orthodox Faith. Just like any relationship, the spiritual bond between a godparent and his or her godchild must be nurtured. In this post, we share eight ways Orthodox godparents can deepen their relationships with their godchildren.
1. Pray for (and with) your godchild
The best way for any relationship to grow is through prayer to the Lord. Pray for your godchild and his parents, and ask your godchild to pray for you. When your godchild is troubled or stressed, or when she is excited about something and comes to you to tell you about it, connect the conversation to God and offer to pray together with her. Even if you must pray over the phone or via Skype, that is better than never praying together at all! By doing this, you give your relationship a strong spiritual basis on which to mature.
2. Celebrate the anniversary of your godchild’s baptism
You can celebrate your child’s baptism anniversary in whatever way makes sense for your situation. If you live nearby, plan to go out for lunch or dinner together, or perhaps have a small party. On the other hand, if you live far from your godchild, send a card or call him on the phone.
Along with teaching your godchild about the saint whose feast we celebrate on the day of his baptism, teach him about his personal patron saint. You can also teach him about the saint he’s named after, and celebrate the feasts of those saints together.
3. Spend time together
While this may seem obvious, so many godparents overlook this simple way they can deepen their relationship with their godchild. Make an effort to keep in contact with your godchild, whether by phone, email, or hand-written letters. And if possible, plan a time to visit your godchild or have them come to visit you. If you live close to one another, make it a point to spend time together. Go to her school plays. Attend his baseball games. Plan special trips just for the two of you, like lunch dates or shopping trips. This will show your godchild how much you love being around them and will deepen your relationship.
4. Invite them to attend services with you
If your parish offers Vespers and Matins services, invite your godchild to attend them with you. If there is a weekday Liturgy or other service, you could also consider inviting them to join you then. In fact, you could extend the invitation to the entire “godfamily”, especially if you attend different parishes, but happen to live near each other.
5. Send your godchild spiritual gifts
3) Encourage the faith life through the types of gifts that you give your Godchild. Some examples of gifts are a bible, prayer book, books on the lives of saints, prayer rope, etc. By doing this you are giving tools to help your Godchild grow in the faith, and are helping him/her to start a personal library of Orthodox teachings.
6. Teach them about the Faith
Perhaps the most important duty of an Orthodox godparent is to teach godchildren about the ancient Christian Faith. Here is a quick (non-exhaustive) list of some things you can do to help them learn about the Faith:
- Ask them what they are learning about in Church School
- Discuss the gospel and epistle lessons with them
- Emphasize the spiritual undertone of holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Pascha
- Teach them about the feasts of the Church
- Teach them about the priesthood or monastic life, if they ask you about it
- Help them study their Bible
- Buy them spiritual/theological Orthodox books
7. Help them serve God
Consider choosing a service project to work at regularly together, like visiting parishioners in the hospital or volunteering to help one of your parish’s local ministries. Help her discover new ways to use her God-given talents to help others. For example, if she is artistic, ask her to help design posters for parish events. Or if she loves to read, ask her to help start up (or maintain) a parish library. If she has a good singing voice, see if she would like to join the choir. The possibilities here are endless!
And if you have a godson, you could encourage him to serve in the altar. 🙂
8. Model the Faith for them
Last, but certainly not least, you should do you absolute best to model the Faith for your godchild. In essence, practice what you preach. Participate in services regularly, attend confession and receive Holy Communion frequently, and be involved in the life of your parish. Moreover, you should enrich your own faith by learning more and more about Orthodoxy. That way, when your godchild has questions, odds are you will have some sort of answer. And if you don’t, find an answer.
Are there other ways Orthodox godparents could enrich their relationships with their godchildren? Let us know in the comments below!