As Catholics are redrawn to the Latin Mass, the need for a Mass companion has increased
DETROIT – A new Latin Mass companion, Benedictus, published by Sophia Institute Press will make the Extraordinary Form more accessible to Catholics, whether they are longtime Latin Mass attendees or have been newly drawn to the beautiful old form of the Mass.
Benedictus is a monthly Mass and breviary companion based on the 1962 Roman Missal. It will be delivered to subscribers in July for Masses beginning in August. For $5 a month, subscribers will receive a small missalette, resembling the popular Magnificat. Benedictus will include the entire liturgical text side-by-side in both English and Latin. In addition to the Mass, the companion will include daily devotions and meditations based on classical traditional spirituality.
There have been other attempts at a similar missalette, but Benedictus stands out because of its easy-to-follow format, said Eric Sammons, editor of Crisis Magazine, speaking on behalf of Sophia Institute Press. With Benedictus, Mass attendees won’t have to flip back and forth through the pages to follow the Mass. It is also timed to meet the increased need for such a companion as more people, including many Millennials and young families, have been drawn to the Latin Mass in recent years.
“We’ve seen a large rise in the number of new people attending the traditional Latin Mass throughout the country,” Sammons said. “And often, it's a very intimidating experience when Catholics go there for the first time. So the idea behind Benedictus is to give them a familiar-looking missalette – like the Magnificat for the ordinary form – that will allow them to understand what's going on.”
Another attraction for young families is that they know exactly what they are going to get from the Latin Mass, said Msgr. Ronald Browne, priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit and chaplain for the Oakland County Latin Mass Association since 2013. It is nearly impossible to ad-lib, so liturgies are followed word-for-word.
“It's the same thing every Sunday with the Extraordinary Form,” Msgr. Browne said. “So they find comfort in it, and they see a beauty that they want to share with their children.”
Sammons said that as young people are increasingly recognizing the destructive and often nihilistic nature of our current culture, the Latin Mass provides a countercultural haven.
“I think the traditional Latin Mass, by its very nature, is very anti-modern, and I mean that in a good way,” Sammons said. “All the bad parts of the modern world are thrown aside in the Traditional Latin Mass; I think that's attractive to young people because they just sense that [our current culture] isn't the way things should be. I think when they go into a traditional Latin Mass it speaks more to their spirit, to what it means to be a human person, and what it means to worship God.”
Research seems to back up this belief.
A recent survey led by Fr. Donald Kloster of the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, between October 22, 2019, and March 1, 2020, found that “traditional Latin Mass is experiencing a high volume of participation and interest in the 18-39 demographic.” Fr. Kloster surveyed 1779 adults from 39 states within this age group who at least prefer the Latin Mass and found that 98 percent of this group were weekly Mass attendees, compared to research at large conducted by Gallup which has shown a dramatic drop in Mass attendance since 1955 with only 25 percent attendance in the 21-29 age range.
Detroit, meanwhile, is the leading diocese in the world for the number of extraordinary form Masses, with 41 different Masses offered in the Metro Detroit area, according to Alex Begin, longtime extraordinary form Mass organizer and executive producer and host of Extraordinary Faith TV.
Begin co-founded the Oakland County Latin Mass Association in 2007 after Pope Benedict XVI released his apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum,” which expanded and simplified the permissions to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy. An Extraordinary Form community already existed in Windsor, part of the Diocese of London, Ontario, since 1991. The group in Windsor helped spawn the first Extraordinary Form Mass in Detroit at St. Josaphat Church. Following the release of “Summorum Pontificum,” the archdiocese has seen an explosion of Latin Masses in the Metro-Detroit area. To meet the needs of those who prefer the Extraordinary Form, Begin started training priests in the Archdiocese in Detroit in celebrating in the Extraordinary Form.
The boom is also due to the accessibility of beautiful, traditional churches in the area where the ordinary form was already being celebrated with many of the traditional rubrics in place, Begin said. This, in addition to individuals coming together to share enthusiasm about the Extraordinary Form, led to Detroit becoming a hub of Latin Mass activity, Begin said.
While the numbers of people attending the traditional Latin Mass are still low compared to the ordinary form, Begin said he has seen with his own eyes that since COVID, attendance has nearly doubled.
“It's really word of mouth, and musicians being attracted to put together quality music programs, and families telling other families that this is the place to go if you want a reverent liturgy and a great social life that's very focused on the beauties of Catholicism,” Begin said.
Begin also said that young people are drawn to the Latin Mass due to its beauty and inherent reverence.
“There's a lot of beauty to the Latin Mass,” he said. “We can evangelize our faith by going back to the treasures of beauty and solemnity that the Church has always offered us and that is made very evident in the traditional Mass. So I think the Millennials, and people of all ages, are really starting to be attracted by beauty in its most plain form.”
Between surveys, the upcoming release of Benedictus, and Detroit’s own success story, it is clear that the Latin Mass might be experiencing a revival, which Begin views as good news for the Church.
“We are in this era when there's a lot of bad news about the Catholic Church; we can all use some good news,” Begin said. “Two weeks ago I was invited to meet with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in San Francisco, because he and his advisors had heard about our success in Detroit, and they said that they ‘want to replicate the Detroit TLM miracle in San Francisco.’ So they look up to what we've got here.
“It's a sign that reverent liturgy is coming back in a big way and has a role to play in the broader Church.”
Subscribe to Benedictus for $5 a month at PrayBenedictus.com
For more information about the Latin Mass in the metro-Detroit area visit the Oakland County Latin Mass Association Facebook page.