St Mary Star of the Sea

Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga, Ontario

Homilies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you
may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and
on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” 
Matthew 5:43-45

FRom Fr Neil's Desk

From December 2015


As we close this liturgical year and embrace the new, it is a good time to refocus our prayers and renew our faith.  During Advent, we look forward to the coming of Jesus – in majesty, in history and in majesty.  (Advent Reflection) 

This year, however, I would ask that we also reflect on Blessed Mary Mother of God and her role in the Incarnation and in the family of the Church.  In a prayer written by St Bernard, we say:

Hail Mary, full of grace!  You are truly full of grace, for you are pleasing to God, to the angels and to men:  To men, by your maternity. To angels, by your virginity. And to God, by your humility. 

Mary is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ and she is the mother of our Church.  Her ‘yes’ was our ‘yes’. It was through her fiat that we accepted the new covenant.  Our joy reflects hers.  We hold Jesus in our hearts just as Mary held Him in her arms.  We cannot think about family and the Church without reflecting on the Holy Family - Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. 

In this new year, the Church brings attention to the family as Pope Francis continues to engage religious and laity following the Synod this past Fall.  Let’s begin Advent thinking of family and imitating Mary, our Mother. St Louis de Montfort, in his True Devotion to Mary, talks of Mary’s ten principal virtues:  deep humility, lively faith, obedience, unceasing prayer, self-denial, purity, love, patience, kindness and heavenly wisdom.  During this Advent season, keep Blessed Mary in your prayers and in your hearts.  Reflect on these virtues and practice them.  With great joy, turn your hearts towards the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and continue to grow in virtue through the imitation of Mary as Mother.  Rejoice in family and strive, as always, towards holiness. 


From September 2015

Abortion and euthanasia- the bookends of human rights abuse- remain unresolved issues in Canada.  It is time for us to speak up and act. 

Tragically, in the last forty years, the lives of over four million unborn children have been unjustly taken away from them, all because they were unwanted and their lives are unprotected by law.  This is the Canadian genocide! 

Here in Canada we are told that abortion is a settled issue.  This, of course, is a great lie, but a lie that many people appear quite willing to live with.  The issue of abortion just keeps coming back again and again.

Some politicians and others in Canada like to lecture other countries about their human rights abuses, but turn a blind eye to the killing of unborn children in their our own country.  The moral high ground is increasingly being eroded.  All the while, respect for human rights is becoming mere lip service. 

Recently the Supreme Court of Canada, after removing the ban on assisted suicide, has given the federal government one year to frame legislation to regulate the practice.  Again, it is the most vulnerable whose lives are at risk, not only the elderly and the disabled, but also young people who feel their sufferings are intolerable.  People who suffer from illness need compassion and care, not be pushed over the edge!

Martin Luther King said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” [I Have a Dream].

What can we do?  What ought we to do?  Doing nothing and remaining silent are not options.  As a start, we can and must become more informed about life issues so that we can speak intelligently about such issues and do so in a way that has a positive impact.  To become better informed get in touch with the Right to Life Association of Mississauga-Brampton, 857 Craig Carrier Court, Mississauga, Ontario. L6W 1A6 or call Genevieve Carson’s cell phone: 416-888-0251.  Read Evangelium Vitae, St. Pope John Paul’s II’s encyclical on the Gospel of Life which lays out the Catholic Church’s teaching on human life.  You might consider subscribing to The Interim Newspaper, 104 Bond Street, 3rd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1X9.  Telephone: 416-204-1687 or Fax: 416-204-1027.  You may also consider checking out LifeSite News on the Internet to keep yourself up to date on what is happening in the realm of life issues.

Secondly, we are dealing with powerful and financially well-endowed forces that seek to silence all voices but their own.  Nevertheless we can stand up and refuse to let our voices be silenced.  It is good to remember that the Church always proposes, never imposes.  We can dialogue respectfully and try to win over hearts and minds. 

Thirdly, we can tap into the vast ocean of God’s mercy, healing and strength- resources infinitely greater than our own- and express our longing for justice for the unborn and the most vulnerable through our prayers for them. We can join with others in prayerful witness in the Life Chain and the March for Life.

If you would like to become active politically in pro-life work, you can get in touch with Campaign Life Coalition, 104 Bond Street, 3rd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1X9.  Telephone: 416-204-9749 or Fax: 416-204-1027.  You can also, if you have the resources, support financially Campaign Life in its tireless work in trying to win some protection for the unborn and other vulnerable people.   

We can all do something to make a difference.  What we must not do is remain silent and do nothing.  To do so only allows evil to grow and flourish.


From May 2015

“Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”  (John 15:4)

Jesus desires that we draw life from Him just as He Himself draws life from His heavenly Father. To abide in Jesus is to be actively connected to the divine life that comes to us from God through Jesus.  By our abiding in Him, we draw life from Him.  And by His abiding in us, Jesus gives life to the world.

Even after a long separation, the life of grace can begin to flow once again when one returns to Him.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation can facilitate the process.  However dead it may be, the spiritual life can be revived.  The life-giving sap of the vine which is Christ can restore our souls and cause our spiritual lives to flourish once again. 

Jesus’ insistence that we abide in Him also shows how important our attachment to Him is for Him too.  Just think about it.  What would a vine be without branches?  What would it produce? If the life of Jesus is to flourish in this world, then Jesus needs us too.  Jesus wants to live in us, not just for our sake, but so that through us He might truly be the life of the whole world.

So, let us cling to Jesus, dear friends, just like the branch clings to the vine.  Each time we celebrate Eucharist, we become one with Him again.  United with Him we can do everything He asks of us, and our lives will blossom and bear fruit as He intended, all for the greater glory of God with whom one day we too shall be glorified.


From March 2015


It is God’s great pleasure to show us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in his son Jesus.  

We experience the mercy of God when we reflect on the mysteries of The Passion – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – and that allows us to live a life of compassion and kindness knowing that we are forgiven sinners.  The Apostle Paul tells us that we have been ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.’  Carrying out works of compassion, doing the deeds of love, revealing the great mercy God has shown us – this, dear friends, this now is to be our way of life.

St James reminds us that works of mercy and compassion and any other deeds of love we may perform are the evidence that faith is truly present in our hearts.  Without such works, he says, faith is dead.  Without deeds, faith and love and mercy are mere words only.  They have no saving value.  We cannot remain indifferent to the suffering and misery that exists in our world.  We cannot ignore the impact that our own self-centeredness has had on others.  God is compassionate.  God cares about those who suffer.  God reaches out to those who are in need.  So must we, if we be born of God.

So, dear friends, in our Lenten journeys – and beyond as we celebrate the joy of Easter – give generously of yourself in the awareness of the many needs of others around us, and also in the realization that everything we have is a sheer gift from God.

O, dear Lord, we thank You for mercies received.


From January 2015

“This is life: Christian life is a journey ....... Journey attentively, tirelessly, courageously.” I sit at my desk today and reflect on those words of Pope Francis from his Angelus on January 6. 

Every step we take, every decision we make, all that we do, all that we say should lead us closer to God.  And many times that isn’t easy.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”  (Isaiah 55:8)  It is up to us to consider what we think and what we do in light of what God desires.  To do good in the eyes of the Lord. 

We must remain humble but always speak the truth.  We must respect those around us and love them as we would love ourselves – but we must also stand up for our faith and our God.  We must do that with love and compassion and mercy.  Let Pope Francis be our model of courageous and respectful dialogue.  

Freedom of speech is a powerful right.  Because it is a right it must be mutually defended and respected.  And because it is a powerful instrument, both for good or ill, it is imperative that all speech be truthful, loving and respectful and at the service of the good of all.

In the last few weeks, we have seen many grave acts of violence resulting from the interpretation of those human rights including freedom of speech.  The rising tide of terrorist acts will challenge us all to resist giving in to violence and to examine our own patterns of speech and behaviour. We are all on a journey together toward a greater apprehension of truth.  

Be attentive.  Be tireless.  Be courageous.  But, most importantly, be prayerful – that we stand up for our human rights and freedom of speech with the compassion and love for others that God desires.  Let us always ask if our thoughts and our ways are aligned with God’s thoughts and ways.  May our message always be of truth, light and love.

From December 2014

At this time of year, the Spirit of Christmas surrounds us!  And it isn’t from the bustle in the stores, the carols playing on the radio or the excitement of gifts under the tree. 

There is a joy in the anticipation that something great will happen.  We feel this way about the wait for a wedding, a grandchild, a visit.  So, too, do we wait in joyful anticipation of Christmas. Let’s keep our thoughts on the meaning of that joy – the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  That wonderful night when the angels proclaimed the coming of Jesus and the shepherds sang in the fields.  Jesus, the tiny infant, born of a Virgin.  He who arrived in history, in mystery and in majesty.

As each day takes us closer to Christmas Day, take the time to reflect on Jesus and the events that led to His birth.  The Angel Gabriel proclaiming the announcement to Mary.  Mary’s ‘yes’.   Joseph’s visit by the Angel.  The journey to Bethlehem. That night in the stable.  The sounds, the smells, the silence, the sacred. 

Each thought is your prayer.  Reflect on your joy.  Keep Jesus in all you do and in how you prepare during this joyful season.  With heartfelt wishes for Blessed Christmas Day!

From August 2014

As I write this, terrible violence between Israel and Palestine and between Russia and the Ukraine and, of course, in Iraq, is rocking our world.  Many of us watch news reports and read journalist reports trying to understand the issues and asking questions like: “How did this escalate so quickly?” “Why isn’t diplomacy working?” We feel a little like voyeurs – watching but having no role in ending the struggle or helping those caught in the conflict.

But, as Christians, we do have a role.  We have prayer.  I urge you to remember the teachings of Jesus.  Like the Jews and the Muslims, Christians are taught two fundamental teachings:  Love God above all and love your neighbour.  But for Christians there is a third equally important teaching that sets us apart:  Love your enemies. 






Dr Martin Luther King spoke of this in a sermon given on November 17 1957 – Loving Your Enemies.  “Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.”

That’s why we continue to encourage non-violent solutions that start with peace, respect and dignity.  So, our prayers should be for those leaders in conflict to follow the path of peace. Pope Francis, in his Sunday address on July 27 2014, has given us the words as we unite in our prayers to end the violence which erupts in the news every day.

He “urged all those listening to his words to continue joining him in prayer that God might grant to the peoples and leaders in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine the wisdom and strength to pursue the path of peace with determination and to face each dispute with the force of dialogue and reconciliation. Every decision, he said, must not be based on particular interests but on the common good and on respect for each person. Remember, the Pope said, that all is lost with war and nothing is lost with peace.” – Pope Francis Appeals for Peace



From June 2014

We know perhaps too well the power of the wind to turn everything upside down.  We also know how fire can destroy, and also how fire can cleanse the earth and illuminate the darkness.  Wind and fire!  These strong images are meant to awaken us to the power of the Holy Spirit to change our lives.  Like the wind, the Spirit blows where it wills. Like fire, the Holy Spirit purifies our hearts, sheds light upon our path.  One cannot control the Spirit.  The more we grow spiritually, the more we learn that life is not about us.  It is about others and it is about God and what God wants to do in us, and will do, if we are open to the Spirit.

The coming of the Holy Spirit is not something that happened once for all, but something ever new, ever fresh.  If our hearts are open, if we are yearning and praying for the Gift that Jesus promised, as the disciples did long ago, the Holy Spirit will fall afresh upon us too.

There is absolutely no doubt, if your hearts are open and you long for life with Jesus, that God will send anew the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, it is God’s delight and joy to grant the Holy Spirit to whomever he chooses. 

We need to have a profound respect for the name of Jesus and to remember that the first commandment is to love God above all things and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  Knowing this can help all of us to live in a way that will attract others to Christ.

The risen Jesus appeared to his disciples on that first Easter morning wishing them peace.  His very first word to them is Shalom, peace.  Then he wishes them peace again.  This peace is a gift of God.  This is a peace that the world cannot give, nor take away from us.  We can live in this peace even when we are facing struggles and hardships.  How wonderful!  This peace is a priceless gift.  And this peace will grow in our hearts the more we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and follow his promptings in our daily lives.  So dear friends, let us all pray “Come Holy Spirit, come to us today.”  Peace be with you.

To read the full homily titled Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation, go to Homilies and select Homily - June 8 2014.

From April 2014


On April 27 2014, two great Popes – John XXIII and John Paul II – will be canonized.  In a time when every corner of our world is struggling with political turmoil and unrest, it is a perfect time to reflect on the lives of these two great saints.

They were both tireless advocates for peace. In John XXIII’s encyclical, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), he implores us to protect ‘that freedom which most truly safeguards the dignity of the human person.  It is stronger than any violence or injustice.’ (p 14)  He stresses that there is nothing human about a society that is held together by force.  He challenges State leaders and men of influence to create a culture throughout the world of ‘mutual trust, sincerity in negotiation, and the faithful fulfilment of obligations assume.’ (p 118)

John Paul II takes up the message in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), as he encourages respect for human dignity.  ‘There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person's dignity and without respect for his or her rights. Nor can there be true peace unless life is defended and promoted.’ (p 101)

I encourage you to keep these thoughts in your prayers.  As we watch world conflicts unfold, may we continue to pray earnestly not just for the people who live in those regions but for those who hold power and influence over them – that they recognize the dignity of the human person and that they are filled with the desire to protect the beauty of life which God has created.

Pope John XXIII, over 50 years ago, gave us the words which are as relevant today as they were then.

‘May Christ inflame the desires of all men to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through His power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them.’ (p 171, Pacem in Terris)


From January 2014

Welcome to St Mary Star of the Sea Parish!  We are one of Mississauga's oldest parishes - celebrating our 100th anniversary this year.  And our St Mary's church community is a very active one!

Our Church is built on a foundation of 'communio sanctorum', a sharing or a participation in holy things.  The church, as a building, provides a community with a place to share and to celebrate our faith together.  At St Mary Star of the Sea, our church is open not only to celebrate our Sunday masses but to support and encourage our ministries of prayer and formation.  From the Ministries page on this website, you can see the variety of ways in which you can participate in your Church and your faith.

Our hope is that you feel the stirrings of the Holy Spirit during your time with us and that you feel welcome as a member of our community.  Our Catholic faith is rich in spirituality and we are blessed to have so many ways and means for each of us to continue growing in our own faith-filled formation.  We hope that this website helps you to find your own path to continuous learning.

Our Church is also built on the love of God and the love of our neighbour.  It is a Church meant to serve.  We have many ministries in which you can be challenged and excited to serve the community.  We hope that you will consider joining our parish in our commitment to helping others.

We are a friendly and open parish - and I hope that you will introduce yourself to myself and Deacon Stephen.  We look forward to meeting you!

Fr Neil