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.

Every faith has a number of set formats for worship. What is the role of such ceremony in our relationship to God?

The public worship of the Church is most often referred to as "the liturgy" by Roman Catholic scholars. The Second Vatican Council, in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (December 4, 1963) offers a wide definition of liturgy. Among so many other considerations, it is seen as carrying out the work of redemption, deeply rooted in the paschal mystery, as a sacred action of Christ and His Body, the Church, a source of grace and sanctification as well as the glorification of God.

From the liturgy, grace is poured forth upon us; and our sanctification in Christ is achieved in the most efficacious possible way. It is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed and at the same time, it is "the fount from which all her power flows" (no.10). The Church engages in many other activities essential to its mission such as evangelization, catechesis, social action and various other forms of Christian service. But the most important of all is found in our full and active participation in the liturgical celebrations of the Church, which are the primary and indispensable source from which we derive our true Christian spirit.

God is always at the center of our liturgical worship. We have a yearly cycle of times, seasons and feasts known as the liturgical year, where the kingdom of God enters our time. Included here are the rites contained in officially promulgated books containing the seven sacraments, some new ones for installation in ministries and two rites for the dying: viaticum and the commendation of the dying. So, in our worship, from birth to death, in every possible circumstance, we come together in praise and thanksgiving of God, recalling His saving deeds, seeking guidance and placing ourselves, and those dear to us, in Gods loving hands.