Kevin Irwin’s love for, and study of, the liturgy of the Church is clearly evident in this searching and thought provoking text offered in honour of the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council’s first document, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy in 1963. Yet this book is not an uncritical examination of the reforms to the liturgy that were brought about by the issuing of the Constitution. It is, rather, a loving and unfailingly honest treatment of what has been done well, what hasn’t been, and what yet remains to be done.
The purpose of the book, as identified by Irwin in the opening pages, “is to shed some light on, and to invite discussion about, the experience in which Catholics have been engaged since the Second Vatican Council implementing and praying the liturgy as reformed after the Council” (p 2). This Irwin does in an accessible yet academically rigorous manner that would make this book ideal for reflection among a wide range of people who are involved in any way in the celebration of the post-Conciliar liturgy.
Irwin’s book would make a wonderful source for an ongoing discussion around the liturgy by a number of groups, including – and perhaps most significantly – interested members of a parish community who seek to deepen their understanding of what the Church does when it gathers to pray and enact the liturgy.