653. Are external displays necessary for worship?
“True worship exists in the heart. Remember that God’s eyes are always watching you.”
a) Are external displays of worship beneficial or constructive?
Yes, if they are not merely done for show. Setting a good example is always important. People who perform acts of worship merely for the sake of appearances and whose behavior contradicts their superficial piety, set a bad example and do more harm than they know or imagine.”
654. Does God prefer any specific type of worship?
“God prefers people who sincerely worship from the heart by doing good and avoiding wrongdoing, over those who follow elaborate rituals or ceremonies but are not truly better than their neighbors.”
“All human beings are brothers and sisters, and also God’s children. God calls out to everyone who follows Divine or natural laws, no matter how they show their deference and respect.”
“People who are only superficially pious are hypocrites. When their worship is only a sham and contradicts their behavior, they set a bad example.”
“Those who claim to worship Christ yet are proud, spiteful, jealous, cruel and unforgiving of others, ambitious for material goods, I declare to you that they have religion for outward appearances only and not in their hearts, God who sees everything will say: ‘Those who know the truth and do not follow it is a hundredfold more guilty in the evil they do than the ignorant savage, and will be treated accordingly on judgment day.’ You can excuse a blind man if he runs into you as he passes by. If the same thing is done by a man who can see you, you complain and with good reason.”
“Do not ask if any specific form of worship is more acceptable than another because that is akin to asking if God prefers to be worshiped in one language over another. Remember that the hymns addressed to God can only reach their target through the heart.”
655. Is it wrong to participate in ceremonies and practice the sacraments of a religion in which we do not sincerely believe, when done out of respect for our loved ones and acquaintances and in order not to offend those who think differently?
“As in so many other things, the intention determines the worth of the act. When a person is simply showing respect for the beliefs of others, it is not wrong. This is better than the person who ridicules them because that would show a lack of charity. However, those who carry out such practices simply for selfish motives or ambition are despicable in the eyes of God and humanity. God gets no gratification or joy out of seeing those who pretend to humble themselves solely for the approval of their fellow human beings.”
656. Is group worship preferable to individual worship?
“When individuals have similar thoughts and feelings and are assembled together, they have more power to attract good spirits. The same applies when they are gathered to worship God. However, this does not mean that private worship is less acceptable as people can worship God in their own thoughts.”