Are you a Sponsor for a Confirmand? Will you be one? Food for thought.

12_03_12_confirmationMany of you out there are godparents or sponsors for confirmands (from Latin confirmandus… “someone about to be confirmed”. Some of are are about to take on this responsibility.

Yes, this is a “responsibility”.

Sometimes you may be asked by the less well-informed because you are pals, etc. But this relationship isn’t merely pro-forma. Sure, there are times when baptisms and marriages have been witnessed by the parish caretaker and the priest’s housekeeper because there was no one else around and time was of the essence. That happened. But we are not usually in that situation.

Being a godparent or sponsor means something.

Of course if the parents are indifferent or your own godchild or confirmand blows it off there’s not much you can do but pray from a “distance” and hope, remembering, as Augustine says, where there is charity, there are no distances.

I received a thoughtful email from reader about being a sponsor and about being sponsored.

Food for thought.

“A word from our sponsor…”

So often when we hear that phrase we know it’s going to precede a marketing gimmick or plug for some kind or other organisation behind a particular event or related group. It got me thinking as I prepare myself spiritually and emotionally to “sponsor” a young cousin of mine [a young woman of 18] who will receive the sacrament of confirmation this weekend. Apart from feeling honoured to be asked by her to support her in this momentous soul-changing moment and event in her life, it causes me to pause and reflect on just how much a responsibility it is and will be ….

It also causes me to refresh my own sense of being sponsored by my patron saints, but also and most importantly by the Spirit of God Himself. I know the Spirit inspires me to pray for without Him I cannot pray but I also know I don’t pray directly to Him enough for his sponsorship of me. So as I stand behind my cousin tomorrow with the reassuring hand of an older brother in the faith on her shoulder as she kneels before the Bishop to be “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” – I shall be asking for that same Spirit to teach and guide me in to continued dependence on the Father, so that I too may promote (sponsor) the well being of others in my daily life especially by my words.

Do I hear an “Amen!”?

And, if anyone out there says that you shouldn’t take a “confirmation name”, tell them “Rubbish!”, pick one, and tell the bishop before he confirms you.

Bishop Morlino, the Extraordinary Ordinary, confirming in the traditional Roman Rite.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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8 Responses to Are you a Sponsor for a Confirmand? Will you be one? Food for thought.

  1. My sponsor was most charitable, even though the man eventually became a priest of a distant diocese, spending many of his years in seminary out of state after my confirmation. I received a regular letter wherein he would ask about whether or not I was still practicing the faith. He urged me to consider my own education in the faith. Without his support, even from a distance, my life would have turned out quite differently. For the worse! One practical thing that he included in his letters was the sharing, in a simple way, of the things that he was learning, whether it happened to regard philosophy or theology. He helped to foster the gift of wonder that God had placed in my soul. His letters would arrive even if I was often slow to respond.

  2. yatzer says:

    I don’t recall having had a sponsor, or any mention of a confirmation name. Sadly. That would have been good.

  3. david s says:

    When I was confirmed, around 1972, our class was told that confirmation names were old fashioned, and we wouldn’t have them. Fortunately, there was enough lore passed down from older siblings about confirmation names. As teenagers, we thought it was cool that we got to pick our own names, and the class insisted, not knowing much about them. Our teachers rather reluctantly let us take names, but I didn’t pick up any idea that it should be a saint’s name who would be a patron.

    Even on that front, I was quite fortunate, as I picked the name Robert simply because I liked it. Then a few years later, I found and read a book about St Robert Bellarmine, whom I’m happy to have as a patron.

  4. chantgirl says:

    Would everyone who reads this stop and say a prayer for my cousin, “P”? I was her confirmation sponsor. She now works for the ACLU, is invalidly married outside the Church with two children who are not baptized. She is about as liberal on social issues as it gets. I have masses said for her, pray for her, but don’t feel that it is prudent to try to talk to her to try to bring her back to the faith. I just don’t think she is in a place to hear what I would say right now. I pray that this is prudence and not cowardice on my part, and I hope that the masses and prayers are softening the ground of her soul for a conversion at the right time.

  5. Chiara says:

    Dear Fr. Z –

    This is an absolutely excellent post, addressing something very close to my heart! Thank you!

    My husband and I were not blessed with the vocation of parenthood, and there were no ethical means for us to become biological parents when we were the right age. But God did not forget us. He presented us with three beautiful young ladies to whom we are Godparents. It is an honor we take very seriously.

    Goddaughter #1 is my niece, who is now 19 and lives in Istanbul. Along with our other Goddaughters, we pray for her daily. I can remember taking her by the hand when she came home for visits, when she was 4 or 5, and showing her the statues at my parish close up, telling her who they are and how they can help her. She was most interested in Our Lady of Grace, who stood on a snake and was above a crescent moon.

    Goddaughter #2 lives nearby, and is 16. Her parents are divorced. Her father keeps trying to lure her to Pentacostalism, and her mother is a hit-and-miss Catholic. She has a standing invitation to contact me if there is a problem with her not being able to attend Sunday Mass with grandma, or if she needs to get to Confession. I have invited her since she was about 7 years old to assist at my parish for various activities. She has faithfully helped up decorate the church for Christmas and Easter for the last 9 years, as well as serving food and helping to prepare and clean up at parish functions. She absolutely loves it, even now that she is a stunning high school sophomore with a job and an active social life. I find it helps to include children in the practical work of the parish and to make them feel needed, and missed if they aren’t there. When she was Confirmed last year, Nicole took the name Susanna, who was a Roman martyr. She told me she was inspired to look to her because of me (my name is Susan). You can imagine how this made me feel!

    Goddaughter #3 is an 8 year-old recent Mexican immigrant. She is a joy. Her devout Mexican aunt is giving her a thorough and orthodox grounding in the Faith. Flor has often lead children and adults in the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, in both Spanish and English. In Mexican culture, Godparents are invaluable and it is a solemn commission for life. In fact, our Flor was told to address us as “Comadre and Compadre”, or co-mother and co-father. When Flor was orphaned in Mexico and brought to America, her aunt asked us to informally take on this job since Flor’s real Godparents are not nearby. Even though there is a language barrier with Flor’s guardians (Flor picked up English quickly – kids!), we have been welcomed into their family and there is never a problem with understanding. It is a blessing and an honor.

    Something that is very important is to have Masses said for one’s Godchildren. We have one said for each girl every year. Flor’s was on New Year’s Day. She was absolutely thrilled. When Father mentioned her name at the Eucharistic Prayer, her jaw dropped, knowing that Father and everyone at Mass was specifically praying for her at the holiest moment of Mass. It was quite something. I do not think she will ever forget it, and that is a good thing.

    The girls know we pray for them every day, because we tell them so. Please, dear Godparents, don’t be backward about talking about the Faith to your Godchildren. Not in a pontificating, preachy way. But in everyday conversation, so that they do not come to think of it as a foreign concept. Say Grace in public when you take them out for dinner on their birthdays, so they know to expect it. Let them know they can ask you about anything, and let them know it is a joy to live as Child of God!

    *Sorry for taking up so much space, Father. I told you this is a very dear subject to me!

    Best Easter blessings and peace to all here – Susan, ofs

  6. I was asked to be the godfather of my friends’ son, so I accepted. When he became old enough to receive religious education and I suggested to them that he be so, I was told that my position as godfather was merely honorary. I put a lot of thought into how I should respond so that I may live up to my responsibility to the boy and sent them the following letter in their son’s name:

    To my very dear parents,

    I am writing this letter to you because I have an especially urgent need at this time in my life. Firstly, though, I want to thank you with all my heart for giving me life and for having me baptized six years ago.

    You have been wonderful parents to me, wanting nothing but the best for me all these years. I am very proud of you and plan to try not to ever disappoint you in any way. I will forever be grateful to you and I will forever be grateful to God for giving me such wonderful parents.

    In fact God is the reason that I am writing this letter. Recall that this month is the sixth anniversary of my baptism. I have reached an important milestone in my life!

    If interested, please continue reading the letter (A Child’s Plea for Eternal Life) at https://fjdalessio.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/a-childs-plea-for-eternal-life. If you so desire, you may use all or any part of it you wish.

  7. LarryW2LJ says:

    I was confirmed in 1970, my Confirmation name is Thomas.

    Today I serve on one of the teams in our Parish that gives classes for prospective Godparents and Confirmation sponsors. We tell them that a Godparent or Confirmation Sponsor MUST be a practicing Catholic, in good standing! This is NOT a ceremonial title and is NOT to be taken lightly. No being a Godparent just because you’re the xth number of sibling and it’s “your turn”. No, we tell them in no uncertain terms that you wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t know how to drive, teach your child how to drive. A Godparent or Confirmation sponsor can only do so much, but being a role model, actively displaying a robust, and devoted Catholic life is what we strive to impart.

  8. Volanges says:

    It’s interesting how practices differ by region. I was confirmed in 1961, was the sponsor for my oldest goddaughter’s Confirmation in 1982, and our oldest 2 children were confirmed in 1996. At no time was a Confirmation name ever mentioned. In fact, I’d never even heard of this practice until I got involved in sacramental preparation in this parish in 1999 when our youngest was confirmed. The difference was that this parish is English and all the other parishes were French. The French did/do things differently in Canada. Most English Catholics here have no idea what I’m talking about when I talk about Solemn Communion — unless they happened to grow up in a French parish like many of my English schoolmates.

    As for my own confirmation, at the age of 7, I remember no sponsor, certainly no one that my parent or I had any choice in. Historical registers show that there were usually only 2 sponsors at our parish Confirmations. One man who was the sponsor for all the boys, and one woman who was the sponsor for all the girls. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the same for the Confirmation entries from 1961.