Where we worship shapes our prayer and how we pray shapes the way in which we live. Using metaphorical equations to design the worship arena my hope in any project is that the congregation will be transfigured by the very space it is helping to create or transform. I believe that places for worship become sacred when the celebrations of life-cycle events occur there. In this sense the building is designed primarily to house the assembly and its worship of God. It is not an object of devotion by itself nor is it a temple to honor the deity. The fundamental blueprint for the building is found in the memories and hopes of the community. This is why participation of the congregation in the building or renovation journey is extremely important.
The time honored ingredients of a worthy place for worship include stories of faith, pilgrimage pathways, transforming thresholds, intimate settings for personal prayer, art work that prompts works of justice and seating plans that engage the community in the public rituals. To evoke a sense of the sacred the building must be designed with attention to detail, scale, proportion, materials, color, illumination and acoustics. All art and furnishings must be of the highest caliber afforded by the community. Sensitivity to ecological and economical factors cannot be overlooked.
Memory and imagination are the main tools in any worship space project.
— Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Philosphy
If the Liturgy appears first of all as the workshop for our activity, then what is essential is being forgotten: God. For the liturgy is not about us, but about God. Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age. As against this, the liturgy should be setting up a sign of God's presence.
Yet what is happening, if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the liturgy itself, and if in the liturgy we are only thinking of ourselves? In any and every liturgical reform, and every liturgical celebration, the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.
— Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Liturgy should be God-centred
The believer who takes part in liturgical worship will do so all the more correctly and single-mindedly the more sincerely he is able to detach himself from his own personal desires. In personal prayer he may obey the promptings of his heart. In liturgical worship, however, he must open himself to a different kind of impulse which comes from a more powerful source: namely the heart of the Church which beats through the ages. Here it does not matter what his personal tastes are, what wants he may have, or what particular cares occupy his mind. All this he must leave behind and enter into the powerful rhythm of liturgical rites. It is precisely by this abandonment that he experiences the most important effect of the Liturgy — the detachment and liberation from the narrow self.
— Romano Guardini, The Art of Praying (Sophia Institute Press, 1994 [1957: Prayer in Practice]. Guardini distinguished three interrelated kinds of prayer: liturgical prayer, personal prayer, and popular devotion.
. . . no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.
—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1125