Today, I was listening to the 11/17/15 podcast of the Calling All Catholics radio show via the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, in Buffalo, NY with “father” Rick Poblocki answering questions about Catholicism. A listener sent in an email to the show saying a friend had asked her to be a godparent of her soon-to-be-baptized child. Catholic godparents are required to be practicing Catholics who act as witnesses at the baptism and promise to help the growing child fulfill her or his future obligations and responsibilities as a member of the church. The writer complained the mother is not a “faithfully practicing Catholic” and doubts whether she “sincerely intends to raise the child in the faith.” She asked “father” Rick whether she should be a party to such a pretense.
“Father” Rick advised her to agree to be a godparent because she could be the strong Catholic influence that the child would otherwise never have. He then went on to bemoan the fact that “there’s a lot of people getting their kids baptized or confirmed (but) they can’t find anybody (to be sponsors) that’s practicing the faith anymore.” Catholic sources report that only 24% of Catholics attend mandatory weekly mass and only 12% of Catholics participate in mandatory yearly confession. Generally speaking, Catholics go to church for weddings, funerals, Christmas, and Easter but beyond that it’s a crapshoot. But who can blame them? Their pope says even atheists will go to Heaven if they are “good” so why bother with all the obligatory liturgical rigmarole?
I was baptized into the Catholic church as an infant but my godparents never once encouraged me in my religious training. That’s probably the case for 99% of godparents. It’s all just empty ceremonialism and ritual. As a young parochial student, my classmates and I went through all the formalities – baptized as babies then first confession, first communion, and confirmation – but it was all empty, impersonal ceremony, like checking off a religious to-do list. No one had accepted Christ because Christ the Savior was never presented to us. Rather, we were all jumping over the prescribed religious ritualistic hurdles as we attempted to earn our way to Heaven. The institutionalized church presented its religious system as the “way” rather than Jesus Christ as the Way.
The Lord worked on my heart for many years and, through God’s Word, the Holy Spirit led me out of religious ritualism to Jesus Christ. I accepted Him as my Savior and was born again at the age of 27. It’s not ritual. It’s not ceremony. It’s not liturgy. It’s not sacraments. It’s understanding their is no hope, no plea other than Christ and then accepting Him as Savior and then obeying Him as Lord. Unlike the pope, the Bible says no one is “good,” no not one.
“He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” – Mark 7:6-8