DEAR FATHER | Focused techniques enhance Rosary prayer experience

Once we get past the basic logistics of praying the Rosary and learn the order of the mysteries, we might ask: "OK, so now I am doing this. What am I supposed to be getting out of it?" To help, there are many aids to help us to pray the Rosary.

‘Truly a treasure’

The Society of the Sacred Heart recently received a 200 year-old ciborium that St. Madeleine Sophie Barat gave to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne to bring to the New World in 1818. The ciborium went to places like Cuba and Venezuela before making its way to St. Louis. Despite St. Rose Philippine Duchesne encountering problems like pirates, the chalice survived and made it to St. Louis.

Two saints, Caribbean pirates and faith-filled Religious of the Sacred Heart.

All three — part of a fantastic journey covering five countries on three continents over two centuries — converged at the Sacred Heart Spirituality Forum recently at St. Louis University, delivering a monumental surprise to the St. Louis-based Province of the United States-Canada.

Simple project takes ‘miraculous’ turn

Source: National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

The project started simply enough, just a plan to revitalize the property at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville.

As part of facilities upgrades to celebrate their 200th anniversary in Perryville, the Vincentians would replace the straight-as-an-arrow sidewalk to create a meandering circuit and enhance accessibility to significant landmarks: the shrine in the church, Bishop Rosati's log cabin, the Vincentian cemetery and a grotto.

But as plans evolved, things started looking very familiar; the new walkway looked very much like ... a rosary.

From palms to ashes

Lisa Johnston |  | Twitter: @aeternusphoto  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the penetential time of Lent. Throughout the season we practice penance, reflection, and fasting in preparation for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Blessed ashes are "imposed" on the faithful's forehead as a sign of conversion, penance, fasting and human mortality. Msgr. Henry Breier, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel distributed ashes during a Mass with the school children at the parish.

Mardi Gras is a time to eat until our heart's content as we prepare for the penitential season of Lent. It's a familiar tradition among Catholics and those who have no connection to the faith.

Another longstanding Mardi Gras tradition — though not understood as well secularly — is the burning of palms to be used on Ash Wednesday.

A Window to Heaven

Votive candles burn in front of an icon of the Kazan Theotokos written (the process of creating) by Marilyn J. Hertenstein at the St. Louis Mission Byzantine Catholic Church.

Deacon Michael Kenney was born in the United States, but he’s always been eastern in his heart.

Since he was a child, the permanent deacon has had a fascination with icons. It started when his mother, a convert to Catholicism, would take him to Perpetual Help devotions on Tuesday nights at St. Ambrose Church in Chicago. Even his appearance these days gives a certain eastern vibe, with a long tuft of white hair that rests on his chin and wearing a long, black button-down shirt, black pants and open-toed sandals.

Dear Father | Sacramentals have possibility of removing venial sin

The answer to your question is yes, or, at least, that it can take away venial sins (it's not automatic). What we're dealing with here is the Church's use of sacramentals and our understanding of their power.

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