February 25, 2024 – From the Pastor Dear Parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy, I hope this finds you well. It is the Second Sunday of Lent. The readings we hear this weekend make us think about the pain and sadness we would feel if we had to sacrifice someone or something that was dear to us. This is especially true in our First Reading. In that reading, Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. We can only imagine Abraham’s dilemma and his crisis of faith at that moment. He wanted to be faithful to God, yet he was being asked to sacrifice all that he held dear. His faith was tested in such an extreme way. Abraham’s dilemma is something that none of us would want to face in our lives, yet we do face times when our faith is tested. We are all confronted with moments when we question whether we have been justified in putting our trust and faith in God. In the early days of the church, the Christians in Rome certainly had those moments. They were surrounded by a culture that was opposed to their way of life. They were persecuted and ostracized, suspected of terrible things, blamed, and rounded up and killed for having put their faith in Jesus. Yet Saint Paul in the second reading wrote to them, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” My dear brothers and sisters, Saint Paul’s words to the Romans are meant for us as well. We live in a day and age and in a society where our Christian values and our beliefs are not always supported and appreciated by the people around us. Our faith is put to the test. Yet God has revealed himself to us in mystery, in the mystery of how he speaks to us in our conscience. Just as he spoke to Abraham, our father in faith, so God speaks to us through every test that we face as we try to be faithful and obedient to his will. If we are confused at times, that only makes sense because God’s will is not always clear to us. We don’t live on the mountaintop where God reveals himself to us, as he did on the day Jesus was transfigured in glory. We have to continue to listen to him and remember that if God is for us, then there is no one who can prevail against us. Let us pray for one another and try to be at peace with everybody. God bless you all! Love, Father Marty (Previous Week) OLM Lenten Food Drive Our parish is holding a Lenten Food Drive to benefit the Food Pantry at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish here in Jersey City. Your donations of non-perishable food items, such as breakfast cereal, canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, jelly, powdered milk, rice, soup, etc. can be dropped off in the collection bins located in the church vestibule or near the parish office. The final food collection will take place Saturday, March 16, from 9 am to 11 am in the OLM Church parking lot near the entrance to the Maria Room. Monetary donations are also accepted. Please make checks payable to “Our Lady of Sorrows” with “Food Pantry” on the memo line. Attention Couples Celebrating 2, 25, or 50 Years of Marriage The Archdiocese of Newark is once again preparing the annual tradition of honoring Catholic couples who will be celebrating 5, 25, or 50 years of valid, sacramental marriage in the year 2024 at special anniversary Masses. These Masses will take place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark and will be celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Tobin. May 5, 2024, at 12 Noon for couples celebrating 5 or 25 years of marriage. June 2, 2024, at 12 Noon for couples celebrating 50 years of marriage. It is hoped that every couple in the Archdiocese deserving of such recognition be present at the appropriate Masses. The presence of these couples will be a tender witness to the strength and stability of Christian marriage in today’s society. Any couple who would have celebrated their Silver or Golden Anniversaries during the time of Covid restrictions is invited to take part as well. In order to sign up for either Anniversary Mass, please fill out a registration form available at the entrance area of the church. Keeping Our Lenten Resolutions The start of Lent is a time for Christians to make resolutions. On Ash Wednesday, we were marked with ashes and told, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” In response to that call to “repent,” we are encouraged to resolve to do something specific during Lent to help us move away from sin and grow in our spiritual life. If we want to remain faithful to our Lenten resolutions, we should follow the example of those who succeed in keeping their New Year’s promises. We should write out what we have resolved to do and put that paper in a place that will catch our attention each day. We might make reading that paper part of our daily prayer. Most importantly, we might tell a family member, friend, or even our parish priest what we have resolved to do and ask that person to check on our progress. We all do better when we are held to account. Finally, we should ask God’s help in keeping our Lenten promises. In Sunday’s Gospel, we hear that during the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert “the angels ministered to him.” We might ask the Lord to “minister” to us during days of Lent as we seek to “repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Lent is a time for making resolutions, but even more importantly, Lent is a time for keeping those resolutions and growing in holiness. Reminder of Friday Abstinence On the Fridays of Lent, all Catholics 14 years of age or older are to abstain from eating meat. This act of penance serves as reminder of this Lenten season during which we are called to turn from sin and to perform acts of sacrifice and works of charity.