Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on March 2, 2016 and has been revised.
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 Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, answering questions about Roman 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 infant 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 listener complained that the mother of the child 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 24% 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 so-called godparents. It’s all just empty ceremonialism and ritual. As a young parochial school student, my baptized classmates and I went through all the formalities – 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 Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone because the genuine Gospel was never presented to us. Rather, we were all jumping over the prescribed, ritualistic religious hurdles as we attempted to earn our way to Heaven. The institutionalized church we were members of 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 by faith alone and was genuinely 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 that we are all sinners deserving eternal punishment and that there is no hope, no plea other than Jesus Christ and then accepting Him as Savior and then following 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
*Roman Catholicism teaches baptismal regeneration and that infants are “born-again” when they are baptized.