Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Is your faith centered primarily in the church, the home, or in the individual?

In all three! We first hear Gods word as children at home. Our parents and families teach us the story of salvation. They teach us how to pray and gradually, as we grow physically and emotionally, we are evangelized by them. The family has been called the "domestic church" by many of our recent pontiffs for this reason. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith, especially during the formative school years.

For others, however, those who are not born into the Church, they come to us through various forms of conversion. Each year, numerous catechumens are baptized at Easter after having followed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. In this process, these individuals become part of a group which shares Gods word and the story of salvation in ways similar to the process followed by those born into the faith.

So even though growth in the faith takes place within each individual, it always takes place within the context of the Church as well. As a matter of fact, the Church is always central to our initiation in the sacraments of Baptism Confirmation and Eucharist. It is through the Eucharist which, as defined in the Vatican II document Lumen gentium (no.11) as the "source and summit" of our lives, that our incorporation into the Body of Christ takes place. All the other sacraments, all ecclesiastical ministries, works and apostolates are wrapped up in or oriented to the Eucharist, which is principally celebrated in Church.

Shaped and formed by Christ in our communal celebrations, at the end of each Eucharist, the presider sends us forth transformed, out into the world, to bring with us that which we have received, to be shared with all we meet until we gather again.