The Church is a ‘we’: reflections on Francis’ restricting the Latin Mass

By Monsignor Kevin Irwin, 22 July 2021
Image: Mateus Campos Felipe/Unsplash


Please note: Permission is being sought by the National Catholic Reporter to republish the entire article

During the summer of 1968, I attended the University of Notre Dame and took the first two of the courses required for a master’s degree in liturgical studies. One was about liturgical books and sources, taught by Benedictine Fr. Aelred Tegels. Repeatedly, he brought to our attention that almost all the prayers in these sources were in the plural — quaesumus — “we ask.”

The other course was on the Eucharist and taught by Benedictine Fr. Aidan Kavanagh. One of his repeated refrains was that the Eucharist as the body of Christ always builds up and serves the body of Christ, the church.

When I returned to seminary for my second year of theology, I met the moral theology professor in the hallway. He said, “Say something to me in liturgy.”

I replied, “Church.” That is what I was taught that summer and have kept learning and teaching to this day. Liturgy and church are inseparable.

I offer here a few thoughts that contextualise and explore Pope Francis’ July 16 apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes, which reimposes restrictions on celebrations of the Mass according to the pre-Vatican II Latin rite.

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Msgr. Kevin Irwin is a priest of the New York Archdiocese who has served on the faculty of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America since 1985. He has served in many capacities in the school, including as dean from 2005 to 2011. He is the author of several books on liturgy, sacraments and the environment.

With thanks to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Monsignor Kevin Irwin, where this article originally appeared.

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