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.

In your faith group, who writes the prayers? Are they all ancient, or still being written today?

The texts of the official prayers of the Church are prepared by various commissions under the authority of the central Roman administration. In English, they are prepared by the International Commission for English in the Liturgy, known as "ICEL". Incidentally, Ottawa Archbishop Gervais has served on that commission.

Our prayers are all found in the "Liturgical Books", and they are always based on our ancient understanding of God who continues to reveal himself throughout history. Hence, our liturgy, like everything in the Church, is subject to historical development. The present scope of our liturgy is contained in the officially promulgated texts which are always approved by the Holy Father himself. These rites, newly revised since the Second Vatican Council, embody a vision of Christian salvation that is centered on the Eucharistic mystery. In that vision, all other liturgical assemblies are entirely an anticipation or an extension of the Eucharistic assembly.

Vatican IIs Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (no.,2) calls the liturgy "the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church". Acknowledging that the liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church", the bishops gathered in the Council nevertheless asserted that "the liturgy is the "summit toward which the Church is directed" (nos. 9 & 10).

The official prayer of the Church is derived from the continued study of sacred scripture and the on-going revelation of God in our human world, where the community of the baptized gives a response to the salvation and sanctification which is experienced in it. These texts cannot be changed by anyone but the authorities. Nonetheless, this a work continues to this day. For example, in collaboration with our bishops, certain texts are being revised for Canada at this time.