Editor’s Note: Several months ago, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski wrote an article for our readers in review of Benedictus, the acclaimed “Traditional Catholic Companion” resource that had just been announced, and which is now in its second print issue (see here).
After the recent motu proprio restricting access to the TLM, Benedictus shared a survey with their subscribers, hoping to learn more about their familiarity with the TLM and views on Traditionis Custodes. We reached out to Aaron Seng, director of the project, to learn more about the survey and share some of the findings with our readers at 1P5.
1P5: Before digging in to your TLM survey, let’s talk about the latest motu proprio. You seem to have picked a rather difficult time to launch a monthly companion resource for the TLM – has Benedictus seen any negative impact?
Seng: No, quite the opposite. Within two weeks of the motu proprio, we lost about twenty subscribers and added six hundred more. Traditiones Custodes – impious and spiritually harmful as it is – may be a better advertisement for the TLM than anything else. And, if there ever was a time for a resource like Benedictus, it seems to be the present. One of our subscribers calls it their “lifeline to Tradition.”
1P5: Some are saying that God willed the motu proprio, as a way to bring people to Catholic Tradition who may not have found it otherwise. Would you agree?
Seng: I’m sure that many will discover Tradition due to the motu proprio, but this is a “bringing good out of evil” situation. Our Lord is not a schizophrenic – perfecting the Roman Rite over centuries as “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven,” then suddenly condemning it by papal fiat as harmful to souls and the unity of the Church. I’d say God wills Traditiones Custodes in the same way that He wills the diversity of world religions, i.e., not at all. He merely foresees and permits such evils in His “passive will,” as a means to chastise the wicked and try the just. One hopes that we will rise to the occasion.
1P5: Why do you think Benedictus continues to grow?
Seng: With only two issues in print, we are already approaching 9,000 subscribers. I see this as a spillover of the wider return to right faith and morals among those seeking to know, love, and serve Our Lord in the Church He established. Many are weary of the “new paradigm” among the officers of that Church over the past fifty years, barely distinguishable now from the secularism and neo-pagan nonsense of the age. Many are finding that there is more to Church history than what they were told, if they were told anything. All of this finds clear expression in the growth of TLM communities around the world, some of which have seen tenfold growth and more over the past year.
1P5: Is Benedictus only a resource for those who love the TLM, or do you see it as having wider appeal?
Seng: Benedictus is considerably more than a missalette; our goal was to give readers a portable companion resource to help shape a daily Catholic devotional life. It certainly features the daily TLM texts, but it also includes daily portions from the old breviary, meditations from proven authors, solid liturgical commentary, classic catechesis, Catholic customs and culture, points for fostering a liturgical life in the home, artwork by Old Masters, etc. It’s had a surprisingly wide appeal for this reason. We naturally have veteran traditionalist subscribers, but there are also Catholics who just discovered the TLM, others who want to learn more before attending, and still others who are not even Catholic, but want to find out about “the whole traditional Catholic thing.” The seed is being sown widely.
1P5: Tell us about the TLM survey you sent to your subscribers.
Seng: A few weeks ago, we sent an at-will survey, asking general demographic questions: Were you raised with the TLM? Do you attend it regularly now? Do you think the motu proprio benefits souls? etc. We had thousands of responses, and over one thousand personal testimonials. More than two-thirds of the survey respondents were not raised with the TLM (so much for “nostalgia”), but the vast majority now attend the TLM regularly if not exclusively. They come from many countries and all walks of life, and no two stories are just alike. The write-ins are especially moving to read, and could fill a book of several hundred pages. I will share just a few here, specifically from non-Catholic converts.
1P5: Final question: In your opinion, what is the single biggest roadblock to restoring the TLM, and the Faith in general, in our times?
Seng: The same as always: a want of supernatural charity, the first property of which is zeal for God’s glory. How can we face the Lord in prayer, if we are not prepared to suffer, even publicly, for His honor? May the martyrs intercede to deliver us all from the fear of man, and teach us the fear of the Lord.
TESTIMONIALS FROM NON-CATHOLIC CONVERTS:
As recent converts, my wife and I have been incredibly blessed by attending the TLM. The beauty and transcendence of the vetus ordo conveys the gravity and “weight of glory” of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a clear and unconfused way. We have been blessed to be able to participate in this truly living tradition!
The Traditional rite is a clear expression of Catholic Doctrine, especially in regard to Transubstantiation. I grew up Protestant and I do not think I fully converted until I started to attend the Traditional rite.
My husband and I are both converts to Catholicism. …He is Anglo and I am Hispanic. We find the TLM to be more reverent and beautiful than the N.O. mass in English or Spanish. My husband can’t understand Spanish and though his latin isn’t great right now, he is learning, and we find the TLM to be a true unifying force within the RC Church. I’ve attended mass in English, Spanish, French, German in different countries. I have also noticed regional differences within the N.O. in the US. I don’t understand why it isn’t all TLM if unity is so important.
I converted over 20 years ago and recently discovered the TLM, only months before Pope Francis issued his motu proprio. I love the Latin Mass so much!!! … I have started to look forward to Mass in a way I never have before and it truly feels like for that hour I leave the craziness of this world behind. I am praying that God will not allow this beautiful treasure to be taken from His children.
We are converts. Once we attended our first TLM it was as if Christ was entering the church. It is an experience not of words but of the heart.
A Catholic convert of over 11 years. I was introduced to the TLM almost 2 years ago and I now attend it exclusively. It has changed my spiritual life for the better, and I now feel as though I am truly Catholic!
I came into the Church 3 years ago barely “surviving” RCIA in an ultra-heterodox parish. If I had NOT discovered the EF of the Mass, I would have left the faith – period. …The stumbling block to evangelization which the current state of the Church and the OF as the only “allowed” celebration of the Mass create, is immense. Protestants do “ordinary” much better – so why should they convert?
I am a convert to the faith and the Latin Mass. Finding the traditional Roman Rite Mass and learning more about it has deepened my faith my love of God… I cannot imagine not being to attend the Latin Mass. It is irreplaceable. May God protect the Mass of all time!
I am a recent convert from Anglicanism. I was greatly disappointed by the Novus Ordo mass. Attending TLM feeds my soul. I don’t want to be without it.
We are converts who were formerly Protestant who entered the Church mainly because of the Latin Mass.
As a Protestant convert, I had almost no exposure to the TLM before I began attending exclusively just over a year ago, and I can tell a difference in my spiritual life. …I craved One Truth, not the many versions of “doctrine” I’d received from multiple denominations throughout my life. I was so thankful to have been introduced to the Catholic Church, the keeper and protector of Christ’s Truth. It’s important to me that the Tradition of our faith be preserved, and I’ve found this to be most evident in churches that celebrate the TLM.
The Traditional Latin Mass is the reason I converted to Catholicism. And I brought my family into the Church with me.
As a 13 y/o when I converted to Catholicism I was spiritually engulfed in the TLM: I did not understand Latin or all the BEAUTIFUL Rites but my heart AND soul KNEW I’d rarely be closer to GOD during the TLM.
I am a convert… The first High Mass I attended brought me to tears. *This is what I’d been searching for. *This* is home. Our family drives an hour and a half one way every Sunday for the privilege of assisting at a TLM, and we frequently make additional trips during the week… My husband is actively searching for a job that will allow us to move closer to our parish, so that we can more fully participate in parish life. …But even if we have to stay where we are, every penny we spend on gas is worth it. Having experienced Christ in this way, we can’t ever go back.
Would that I could attend the TLM regularly, but distance is prohibitive, especially in the liberal diocese I live in. Safe to say, Traditionis Custodes will not expand my opportunities!
I converted to the Faith in university after studying for a BA in history and falling in love with the TLM.
The reverence and beauty of the TLM attracted this convert!!!
I converted in 2020. I probably would not have converted had it not been for the TLM. The reverence and respect displayed towards the Holy Eucharist inspired me so much and my faith has grown exponentially with the influence of the TLM. The Latin Mass saves souls!
The TLM has brought me closer to God and has increased my love for Catholicism (I am an Episcopal convert).
I am a convert thanks to the TLM. As a lifelong Episcopalian prior to conversion I appreciate how clearly the TLM expresses Catholic doctrine.
The TLM is the only way I was able to convert my wife, without it I fear she may go through intense struggles with her faith.
I am a convert currently attending the TLM. I’ll be baptized in September. I have never felt closer to God than I am now. The ceremony is about true worship, and I feel such love when in prayer while attending. Thank you for having the Benedictus available to every one at this sensitive time in Church history.
I am a convert from Calvinism, and going to the Latin Mass every week has entirely changed my life and my spirituality, all for the better. Our family life, our marriage, and our parenting has drastically improved since we started going to the TLM.
As a convert to Catholicism it’s just wild to me that a Pope would believe eliminating the Mass as it has always existed in the Church would be beneficial to the Church. …I don’t see myself or my family as being divisive or schismatic only devoted to our faith. It saddens us to have a Holy Father who sees us in this way because we cling to the tradition of our beautiful Church.
As a convert from Protestantism, I often tell people that my conversion involved two paradigm shifts in series: the first when I recognized the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith, and the second (5 years later) when I realized what has happened in the Church over the past 50-plus years. After attending my first traditional Latin Mass (which happened to be a pontifical Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke, I knew there was no going back.
I am a convert who has grown to love the beauty and tradition of the TLM. …My sons have gone from complaining about going to Mass (our local Nous Ordo parish) to eagerly watching the altar servers and following along with reverence (most of the time!). Discovering the TLM has been an immense blessing for our family.
I am a convert to Catholicism of sixteen years. My husband and myself began attending TLM nine months ago. Greatest decision we ever made.
I have for many years felt a persistent tug towards Roman Catholicism, primarily through my extensive reading of Cardinal Newman’s writings. My entire experience, however, with the Roman Catholic church has been negative — irreverent services, women serving Holy Communion, altar girls, guitars and drums, and hideous buildings pretending to be churches. … However, Providentially, our two oldest (21 and 20) started attending a TLM parish. Eventually they sought our blessing to convert. We gave it to them. We then attended a TLM and were blown away. This has all happened in the last 3-4 months… we quickly fell in love with the TLM and made the decision to convert… and we will, God willing, be received into the One True Church on Easter. We are ready to join all of you who have fought and persevered for the TLM over these many years. We have our rosaries in hand (and are learning to pray them). Thanks to Benedictus for your wonderful publication.