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top Parable BattleTestedBattle Tested

Herman “Herk” Streitburger and 8,000 other prisoners of war in the German Stalag Luft IV camp in Prussia cherished the coffee, cigarettes and chocolates they received in their American Red Cross parcels. But in 1944, one precious gift was not yet protected by the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of captured military personnel. Amid the harsh and threadbare conditions, religious practice by POWs was not permitted.

This is why 75 years later, Herman, an active parishioner at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Bedford, with a strong memory that enables him to recall with clarity names, dates and events from decades ago, recalls one incident at the Stalag camp with particular vividness: the Catholic Mass that he and his fellow POWs celebrated on a warm June day under threat of execution.

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top PARABLE Kerper

Dear Father Kerper

Dear Father Kerper: All of a sudden our parish has “faith formation” instead of religious education and CCD. And now kids are receiving confirmation with First Communion. I don’t see how they can possibly know enough at such a young age. What exactly is “faith formation” anyway? Just another new-fangled term?

Your suspicion about “faith formation” being just “another new-fangled” term hits the mark. After all, we do spend a lot of time tinkering with words without changing realities. However, I hope that the shift away from “religious education” to “faith formation” will eventually strengthen the Church and foster deeper personal relationships between Catholics and the Lord.

Formation is not just another term for education. Though related in some respects, they differ immensely. Here’s how.

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top Parable MerryChristmasHow Do You Say Merry Christmas?

The feast day of our Lord’s birth on Christmas is one of the most joyous holidays, widely celebrated through the centuries by many cultures. The Yule season remains rich in tradition to this day. For many, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without reading that special Christmas Eve story, making special foods, attending a concert or Christmas Mass. What some families may not know is how many of their beloved traditions share religious and ethnic roots, tying them to the generations who came before them.

Get the recipe for Tourtiere, the French-Canadian tradtional meat pie

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top PARABLE Fisher

When Your Older Kids Won’t Go to Mass

Should we make our older kids go to Mass if they don’t want to? It seems like a slam dunk answer: Yes, of course we should insist, just like we insist they go to the doctor, go to school or take regular showers. The Sunday obligation is central to the practice of our faith.

But a less satisfying and more accurate answer, is: “Yes, but maybe no. It depends.” First, let’s discuss the compelling reasons to make a child go:

  • Because it’s a mortal sin for Catholics to skip Mass without a good reason.
  • Because you want the beautiful, powerful, salvific words of Scripture and liturgy to sink into their psyches and stay with them for a lifetime.
  • Because you want them to spend time in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

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Other Columns in the Current Issue

Bishop's Message - Our Work is Not Done
Catholic Quiz
Keeping Faith With Teens - Breaking Pornography's Addiction
Dear Father Kerper - W
hat Is "Faith Formation" Anyway?
School Profile - Holy Family Academy
Marriage and Family Life - When Your Older Kids Won't Go to Mass
On Call With Dr. Pepe - Gifts For All Seasons
Your Faith - We Were Chosen as God's Children
Catholic Charities Report - Liberty House, Catholic Charities Join Forces to Help Veterans
Cover Story - Battle Tested Faith
Have You Ever Thought of Being a Priest? - Meet Father Joseph Gosselin, MS
Local News
Calendar of Events
7 Days a Pastor: Reflections from Father Andrew Nelson - The Final Gift
Mission Moment