The first considerations are the Eucharist, the other sacraments, and the Liturgy of the Hours, and more to follow:
§ 47 § The prayer life of the Church is richly diverse. The eucharistic liturgy, the other sacraments, and the Liturgy of the Hours are sacred actions surpassing all others. The praise and thanksgiving, which are at the heart of the Eucharist, are continued in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours is the Church’s daily liturgical prayer that expresses the nature of the praying Church and is, itself, a sign of the Church.(Laudis Canticum) In addition to their participation in communal prayer, Christ’s followers deepen their relationship with God through private prayer, which flows from the liturgy. Thus, the Church encourages popular devotions that “harmonize with the liturgical seasons” and “lead people to [the liturgy].”(SC 12 & 13) Besides its primary role of providing a suitable place for the celebration of the liturgical rites, the church building also offers a place to which individuals may come to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and in which groups of the faithful may gather for a rich variety of devotions expressive of the faith life of a given culture, region, or ethnic community.
§ 48 § This chapter is intended to help a community fulfill its role in designing a place that readily accommodates all these needs. In new construction, parishes usually have several options for various elements of design. Sometimes those options are limited by the space or terrain, or by financial resources. And sometimes, as in the case of renovation, there are additional limits imposed by the existing structure. This chapter reviews the spatial demands of the various liturgical rites and offers principles for choosing among the various options. Many dioceses have developed their own procedures and guidelines for the building and renovation of churches. The principles in this document should guide dioceses in the writing of local directives.
Laudis Canticum, found on the Adoremus site, is the 1970 apostolic constitution that promulgated the revised Liturgy of the Hours.
We likely have a broad concession that the renewal of the Liturgy of the Hours among the ordinary laity has yet to take real root, but that one aspect of devotion, praying before the Blessed Sacrament, continues to have a needed place in churches.
Other devotions, too, those in harmony with the church’s liturgical practices, have a place in the building.
BLS 48 reminds us that the principles that follow in sections 49 through 139 will form the core of a community’s formation as a new church is built or an older one renovated, and also any guidelines offered by the local diocese for its parishes and other faith communities.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.