By Larry Kolczak
The good news is, our gardener’s daughter had a baby three months ago. She asked my wife and I to be the Godparents. We happily agreed. The bad news is that, before you can become a Godparent, you have to attend three one-hour lectures on Catholicism at the parish church. No exceptions. They take attendance.
Considering the fact that I had not gone to mass since Vatican II—that’s six Popes ago—I figured a little refresher course might be in order. I’d heard rumors that the Mass was no longer being said in Latin. And that the altar had been turned around so the priest could face the people. Really, what next? Women serving communion?
When we arrived for the first session, there were about 50 other people, all Mexicans, ready to suffer through the same indoctrination. So there we sat, listening to the priest drone on—in Spanish. Not just Spanish – Biblical Spanish—Ecclesiastical Spanish. We barely understand restaurant Spanish. When the soft-spoken priest started, my wife leaned over to me and whispered she was having trouble hearing him. I leaned back and said, “What’s the difference?”
This went on for three evenings. Two petunias in the onion patch hoping nobody would notice that we didn’t understand a word of what was being said. Sitting there, I began to realize what the Indians must have felt like when the Spanish missionaries first arrived. They had no idea what the guy in the funny clothes was saying, but they knew they had to sit there. So, probably like them, I just entertained myself looking around the church at all the colorful statues, paintings and gold-plated ornaments. When the last session was over, I turned to my wife and asked, “Any questions?”
For all this religious enlightenment, we were issued an official Godparent’s Permit. Of course it is all in Spanish, so I don’t really know what it says. But, I noticed this. They are quite environmentally conscious down here. The permit was printed on 100% recycled paper. I don’t mean stationery with a watermark saying it was recycled. I mean the permit was printed on the back of some old document they had fished out of the wastebasket. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand what was printed on that side either.
As the big day approached, I began to worry. I’m sure when they asked me to become a Godfather, they didn’t know that I have somehow managed to get through an entire lifetime without ever actually holding a baby. My wife’s children were all grown before we met, and our grandchildren all had the good sense to be born and raised out of state.
I started imagining all kinds of problems. I could picture the baby having a crying jag while I was trying to hear the words of the priest. I might miss my cue. I could picture the little guy starting to squirm just as I held him over the baptismal font. And, worse yet, he might be slippery when wet. Artificial resuscitation was not part of the training course.
When the day of the baptism arrived, things went pretty much as expected. The baby had a crying jag. I missed my cue. But, at least nobody had to call 911.
Well, now that we’ve got this baby off to a good start, I have the highest hopes that he will grow up strong, and smart, live long and prosper. Though I’m a little worried about something.
I can only hope that when his time on Earth is over, and he ultimately shows up at the Pearly Gates, he will not be turned away because I had an improperly issued Godfather’s Permit. Surely, there is a special place in heaven for the “undocumented?”
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com