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, what does it mean to worship God?

The first commandment reminds us that we are to worship the Lord our God and to serve him alone. In obeying it, we acknowledge God as our creator and saviour, the Master of all that exists. The worship of God calls for a total and wholehearted commitment to living our faith at all times and in observing his laws in all we do.

The worship of God takes place in many ways, for example, in words, music, bodily action and even silent contemplation. It can express different sentiments as well, such as adoration, reverence, sorrow, regret for our sinfulness, gratitude for favours received and petition for future needs. It can be private, it can be public. It is found in the celebration of all the sacraments, which is the Churchs formal, public worship to which we are all called. In these encounters with God, we celebrate the many events of life: birth, membership in the community, nourishment, commitment, the restoration of broken relationships, and the acknowledgment of our own mortality. We recognize and encounter Gods love in Christ in every one of the sacraments, and we worship him as we celebrate them.

Our worship has a two-fold thrust or direction: on the one hand it is oriented towards communion with God, and on the other hand, it works to sanctify the individual worshipper and the entire community. The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum concilium (no. 8, 48) puts it this way: "it develops union with others, for the glory of God from whom it begins and towards whom it moves". Finally, our worship has truly practical repercussions. It constrains us to work for the spread of Gods kingdom, as found in our justice and fairness, harmony and integrity, with each other and in our relationship to the environment and to all creation.