Philip and I were asked by two of our friends to sponsor them as they enter the Catholic Church this Easter. Of course, this is an honor and a privilege for us – and a very unique experience. We each have godchildren and we’ve both been Confirmation sponsors, but this is the first time we’ve been godparents/sponsors together.
So the four of us spent pretty much all of last Sunday together participating in the Rite of Sending at our home parish here on base, then at the Rite of Election at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. All I can say is…amazing.
I’d never been to the Basilica, so I was immediately awestruck by the building itself. The interior rivaled any basilica or cathedral we’ve seen in Europe. I cannot even begin to do it justice in trying to describe it with words. I didn’t bring a camera, so I can’t share any pictures, sadly. Our homeschool group is taking a tour next month, so I’ll get some pictures then.
The Rite itself – again, wow. There were 5 Bishops in attendance – the Archbishop of DC, 3 of his auxiliary bishops and the Bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Incidentally, ours was the only church that identified itself as being from a military base, so the bishop was probably there just for us! The sheer number of people being baptized or coming into full communion with the Church was so inspiring, and makes you think that maybe our country really isn’t going to hell in a hand basket after all. Each of the catechumens who will be baptized at Easter were called by name and were presented by their godparent to the Archbishop. He seemed to be having quite a good time, shaking hands and smiling the whole time. They lined up on the in front of the altar, where they answered questions as a group. After they returned to their seats, the candidates for Confirmation were by parish and went up with their sponsors. We didn’t get to meet the Archbishop, but we filled the enormous chancel. We were one of the first parishes called up, so we stood to the very back. It was an amazing view, looking out over the sea of humanity, and also taking in the beautiful artwork surrounding us. We will probably never again be that close to the altar of the Basilica.
I have to say that it was actually a lot of fun. Our military men in their uniforms looked quite handsome and distinguished, and we had seats about 5 rows from the front. I got little crick in my neck from looking up at the Archbishop during his homily, we were that close. It was fun sharing the experience with the others from our parish, too.
I do have another side story to tell about something that happened as we were leaving. But it’s a story for another day…