Last Sunday, I participated in the baptism of another Godchild of mine. To mark the occasion I wrote her a letter and am sharing an abridged version of it for you – the readers. I hope you find it encouraging during this Lenten season as we prepare for the glory of the Resurrection.
Welcome to the world, and with your baptism, welcome to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God. As your Godfather, it is my humble honour to spiritually accompany you as you grow in life and faith. Your parents felt that this duty should fall upon me and it’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.
As my 4th Godchild you are joining a spiritual family of children for whom godparenting has been a great joy. Your god-siblings all enjoy the privileges of faithful parenting and the challenge of having older brothers or sisters. All four of you will be prayerful and thoughtful young women and men who make up a coherent Godfamily that I will love and support unconditionally.
The most important figure in your life who will accompany you the most closely is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not just an older brother, but your Lord God and Saviour. His Father intentionally created you and willed you into existence and He loves you more than anybody else you meet in life will. My duty will be helping you realize God’s presence and role in your life. I will pray for you, that He is ever present to you so that as much as He desires to be with you, you will stay close to Him, especially in full and active participation of the sacraments. As you become capable of it, I will likewise be counting on you to pray for me in my times of joy and thanks as well as times of trials and struggles; so we’ll both pray for each other. My own faith continues to mature in one of the most unchurched parts of the United States, so I am reminded evermore of my need to stay close to the Sacraments to stay nourished in this wilderness.
You are entering a world fraught with particular challenges at this time, especially for young women like yourself. The role and authority of world institutions is rightly being challenged, as powerful politicians and influential figures are now being called out for their great disrespect to women and subordinates, after a good number of them had been allowed to get away with their bad behaviour for decades. Disrespect for life has turned those who claim to be feminists against their very unique roles as mothers and extended to a society where the ability to terminate a life at any stage in the most cavalier manner is seen as a desirable sign of power and privilege. In matters large and small people express opinions using shows of force rather than reason, from shouting and violent demonstrations to terrorism and threats of nuclear war. Most people have lost the ability to debate and argue in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect.
This is also a time where ugliness permeates the culture in all forms of its expressions; even in our churches there’s no guarantee that the worship and liturgy will be beautiful in a manner fitting for the Creator and Author of all beauty. The reduction of objectivity to relative opinion has not only brought down the level of discourse, but a trivialization of what is considered “beautiful” and “true”. I believe that an important path towards the reintegration of humanity is a rediscovery of truth through beauty. With only a little hyperbole, you arrive at a time where there is a huge opportunity to bring beauty to this world so as to transform it.
You’re already doing it in the environment of your home. Your coos and titters make your parents and those around you pause, smile, and forget about the worries of the world for just a few seconds. Your older brothers would put their own toys and preoccupations aside to attend to your smiles and laughter. Think about your own pleasure at your eye’s consumption of pleasing shapes and colours as it discovers the beauty of your home and of nature outside; your sigh of satisfaction as your ear takes in the pleasant hums of your dad’s musical instruments are the seeds of beauty that you will develop a sense for, and this is the beauty that will save the world. God made the world with purpose and with beauty, and it was all good. You are born in a world where the line between purpose and chaos is fuzzy; where the difference between good and evil is obscured. Society counts on people called artists to beautify the world. The successful artist’s task is tougher in this world because they really need to dig through the crust of ugliness and banality to uncover true beauty. My prediction and hope for you is that you will find much joy in artistry – in your drawings, singing, and dancing.
Only God knows whether you will become an artist by profession. You might be a musician, a painter, a sculptor, a story teller. You will have all kinds of opportunity as you grow to explore all forms of art. Know that also when you join your parents at Mass you are participating in a form of worship that originates from the artistry of the Lord. The unity of your mind, soul and body expressing its inner beauty is a light to this world of darkness; where you can bring colour to the gray bleakness, break the urban cynical white noise with clear notes of hope, and bring an organic human sense of movement to lift our hearts above the ground dominated by machines and inhuman routines. Move us to tears and laughter and remind the world that it turns on the axis of love and compassion. Living your life well is an art form int itself.
So live your life artfully and radiate the joy of God’s grace to your family and those around you. Your parents will be burdened with the yoke of their job and daily routines and the troubles that your older brothers get into. Teach them to be the gentlemen that God intends them to be. May they be men of respect and chivalry, in an era where conventional masculinity is under threat. Practice standing up to them as you realize your own strong independent femininity, always in the model of the Blessed Mother who said Yes to God without over-analyzing the consequences. Be a good daughter and help your Mom flourish in her role to be the best matriarch in your growing family.
Welcome to the world, welcome to God’s family, welcome to my Godfamily. On this day as the faithful grow deeper in penitence and preparation to recollect the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection, your baptism is the most important thing to happen to this world, because on this day another agent of God’s light has been introduced to a world that badly needs her.
-Lawrence, your Godfather
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