December 17, 2023 – From the Pastor Dear Parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy, I hope you are doing well. In this Sunday’s gospel passage, when John the Baptist was asked by his detractors what he had to say about himself, he quoted this passage from Isaiah: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.” With that bold introduction of John the Baptist, the Church wants us to recognize that we are already past the mid-point in our preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ Nativity. The Church calls us to rejoice today because we have come so far in our Advent journey. Yet, we must also recognize that the journey continues. We must go forward and persevere in our efforts to be well prepared for Jesus’ coming into our lives anew. I am aware that there are those who are suffering various challenges in this life, some worse than others. Our faith is being tested daily by the chaos in our society, wars in parts of the world, threats of disease, and many other disturbing things. We don’t know how to deal with the changes around us. All of this adds to our growing anxiety each day. Yet, this Sunday, St. Paul tells us in our Second Reading, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” We are called to rejoice and pray even in difficult circumstances because we know that the day of our salvation is closer now than it was before. Brothers and sisters, Christ is coming! Even though it is difficult to remain strong in faith under the circumstances that are assailing us, we should not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by what is happening around us. Let us heed the call of John the Baptist who tells us to make straight the way of the Lord. Let us rejoice, despite what is happening around us because the day of the Lord is coming. Next weekend is the last Sunday of Advent and the following day is Christmas. Please do not forget to consult our Christmas Mass schedule posted in the bulletin, and please remember your generous Christmas gift of $200 per household to your parish. Thank you so much! God bless you all! Love, Father Marty (Previous Week) 2024 Mass Intentions Our 2024 Mass Book opens for your Mass intentions starting tomorrow, Monday, November 27. Masses may be scheduled on weekdays during regular office hours, 8 am to 3 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays, between 9 am to 1 pm. Please note that during the first month the Mass Book is open, we request that parishioners book no more than 5 Masses. In addition to Mass intentions, you may also make donations for the sanctuary lamp and for the bread and wine used at our Masses. The suggested offering for weekday Masses is $15, and the suggested offering for Sunday Masses is $25. The suggested offering for the sanctuary lamp that burn by the tabernacle, or the bread, or the wine to be used at our Masses is $25. 2024 Bible Diary Now on Sale at OLM The new edition of the popular Bible Diary is now on sale at the Parish Office after Mass or during regular office hours. Cost per copy is $15. The 2024 Bible Diary contains the assigned scripture reading for each day of the year, a reflection on the reading, and also information about the saint of the day. Many members of OLM have found the Bible Diary to be a great help for their personal daily prayer and for preparation for Daily and Sunday Mass. The Bible Diary makes a perfect Christmas gift.