Benedictus: A Brilliant New Resource for the Old Rite

As the Vatican continues its bizarre feud with the venerable Roman Rite, going so far as to prohibit the offering of the Ancient Mass in St. Peter’s upper basilica (the very Mass for which that basilica was built), it is delightful to be able to share some very good news.

Benedictus, the “Traditional Catholic Companion,” has just been launched by Sophia Institute Press. As one of several consultants involved in the project, I cannot recommend this resource enough. Similar to the Magnificat magazine that many are familiar with, Benedictus is a subscription-based pocket-sized monthly booklet that comes loaded with content for daily prayer and study: roughly 400 pages per issue.

The marked difference with Benedictus, of course, is that it is patterned exclusively on the traditional liturgy, and draws on the piety and scholarship of the ages of faith. It includes daily excerpts from Lauds and Vespers of the traditional Roman Breviary, texts for the Latin Mass of each day following the 1962 calendar (although keeping an eye on the slow growth of pre-55 practices), a daily meditation from a Saint or classical author, beautiful art and catechesis sections, and more.

For years, priests and laity have voiced the need for this kind of portable and engaging “hand-off” resource to spread knowledge and love of the Faith to those starting from square one (or Ground Zero, one might say). Now, as attendance continues to climb at traditional Masses around the world, Benedictus could hardly be more timely—for both veterans and newcomers to the Vetus Ordo.

Below are five of my favorite aspects of the project, along with some photos of the sample issue.

  1. It’s beautiful. The cover hosts a masterpiece of sacred art, and print issues will include a separable holy card of the same good taste. Inside, the design is quite lovely, and features numerous text ornaments from old hand-missals and other engravings. The fonts have clarity and classic elegance: and instead of a typical black-and-red motif, Benedictus has sourced a metallic gold interior ink to complement the black – it actually has a sheen to it, evoking the illuminated manuscripts of old.

(Click images to enlarge)

 

  1. It’s wonderfully simple, but not stupid. One of the most compelling features for TLM-newbies and families with children still training up to a full hand-missal is that Benedictus makes the missal portions navigable without any ribbons or page-jumping. The entirety of each Sunday Mass is a direct read-through, in Latin and English, with the propers in place and simplified “rubrics” to what is happening. At the same time, it isn’t weighted with diagrams, posture notes, and other hand-holding elements that can clutter up a tool of this kind. The right balance, in my opinion, between minimalism and excess.
  1. Attention to detail. The English translations are excellent (mostly Father Lasance, Douay-Rheims). All verses are noted in citations. Some commemoration-related directions are included. Impressive also is the inclusion of full stops in the formulae for Consecration—an ancient and important (though often overlooked, even in traditional hand missals) theological defense of priestly power and the sacrificial nature of the Mass. These may be little touches that only a “liturgy nerd” would notice, but they bespeak a real care on the part of the editors to do justice to the venerable Roman Rite and its piety.
  1. Solid, reliable authors. One glance at the Index in the back is enough to show that Benedictus is far from the kind of feel-good post-V2 fluff often encountered in other daily prayer resources (no names need be mentioned). In addition to great saints like Augustine, Aquinas, Bellarmine, and De Montfort, one finds renowned liturgists like Guéranger, Goffine, and Schuster—guides at whose feet one may actually grow in the spiritual life. Because Benedictus only cites authors “from the early Church up to the early 1900s,” it conveniently avoids much of the modernizing meltdown of the past several decades.
  2. Faith-Forming Extras. Freestanding sections offer wonderful aids to further unpack and apply the endless treasury that is our liturgical heritage. “Living Tradition” gives suggestions for extending the liturgical life into the home and workplace. “Catholic Culture” sections offer delightful bits of prose and verse. “Feast & Feria” shares insight into feasts and ceremonies. I’m told there will be a particularly hard-hitting “Apostolic Encouragement” section in future issues, curated with a view to fostering a more robust sensus Catholicus in the face of current challenges.

The first full issue will be August’s, shipping in July. Because generous bulk discounts are available, it would also be worthwhile for parishes, groups of laity, families, religious, schools, etc. to place larger orders for distribution—e.g., as a freebie placed in parish vestibules, as a take-home resource for school students, or a “TLM-evangelization” gift to family and friends.

A project of this magnitude will succeed only if a certain threshold of subscribers can sustain its publication (a challenge that periodical journals and newspapers know very well). Benedictus has a goal of 5,000 subscriptions by this summer to make it work. May it be so! This project stands to have far-reaching impact, and poses a meaningful opportunity to “light a liturgical candle” rather than curse the ecclesiastical darkness that surrounds us.

Visit the Benedictus website for more information, view the full sample issue, read the stellar endorsements (Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Viganò, Bishop Schneider, Bishop Strickland, Fr. James Jackson, FSSP, Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP, Canon Matthew Talarico, ICKSP, and Michael Matt), or, most importantly, subscribe.

With His Excellency’s permission, the full text of Archbishop Viganò’s endorsement may serve as a fitting conclusion:

I am very happy to approve and encourage the Benedictus project to spread the knowledge of the venerable traditional Liturgy. The more the faithful and the clergy have the opportunity to encounter the perennial Prayer of the Mystical Body, the more they will be able to taste the treasures of piety, doctrine, and spirituality with which the Church turns to the Holy Trinity, through Jesus Christ the High Priest, the Immaculate Victim, the Living Altar. In a world that has forgotten the meaning of sacredness and silence, your initiative is more than commendable, and will undoubtedly deserve heavenly favors, since thanks to it many souls will be able to drink from the sources of the Liturgy, which is a defense against the heady innovations of heretics and Modernists.

 

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