Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Mass Poll

Once upon a time I had a very exciting meeting in a publisher's office. It had a model boat, I believe, and a view of the harbour. I sat very straight, drank coffee and was just on the respectable side of giddy.

"Who is the audience for this book?" asked the publisher.

"The average Seraphic Singles reader is female, Single, American, between the ages of 19 and 40, at university or university educated," I said. "She is almost always female, and she is almost always a Roman Catholic. She is usually in her twenties and early thirties, because as a matter of fact most people in the USA get married at least once, usually by 40."

You have no idea how high I got just rattling that off to my publisher. It was all true, and I knew it was all true because of the polls I posted that year.

One of the first rules in writing is "Know your audience." Whenever you write anything, you must consider your audience. And, goodness knows, I find you all fascinating because what kind of people turn up every week or every day to read my effusive typings?

This is not only a personal question or a vocational question, it is a professional question. The biggest headache for a writer (if she has food and shelter) is having her stuff turned down because she has sent it to the wrong place.

Anyway, this time I wanted to find out how many of your were Latin Mass nuts like me, and how many were going to the Ordinary Form, and how many would admit to skipping off, and if the Other Readers of Good Will were still hanging in there.

First, 145 readers responded.

Of the 145:

135 went to Mass that Sunday.

111 went to Mass in a vernacular language that Sunday.

24 went to Mass in Latin.

Nobody went to Mass in another ancient language. I was thinking Old Slavonic or Coptic or Greek.

1 person was sick.

4 were skiving. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that they were actually sick or travelling or tending small babies. If not, to the confessional with them. Easy peasy:

Them: "Bless me Father for I have sinned; it has been a long time since my last confession. Since that time I skipped off Mass X time(s) and for this and for all the sins of my past life that I've forgotten I am truly sorry."

Priest: "That's it?"

Them (thinking very hard but their minds have gone blank): "Yep."

Priest: "Well, um, you oughtn't to skip off Mass."

Them (deeply sorrowful): "I know, Father."

Priest: "Say an Act of Contrition."

Them (reading off card): "O my God, I am truly sorry.." Etc.

Then if they are lucky they will get a penance right away, and if they are not they will get a tremendously long feel-good lecture that somehow makes them feel worse instead of that lightness of heart the sacrament usually brings. Incidentally, Jesuits often like you to ponder Scripture passages for your penance, so bring a Bible if you're going to a Jesuit.

5 were Other Readers of Good Will who like answering polls. How nice it would be if they came to Mass, too, hint, hint. (But don't go up for Communion because that is A BIG DEAL for which you have to be Catholic, prepared, shriven, etc.)


Okay, so my voters are mostly Catholic, and you mostly did not skip off Mass, which is sadly what most baptized Catholics in the West do week after week. I think in Canada that is around 70%. Yikes. Still that is better than 85% which I think describes France.

Most of my readers go to Mass in a vernacular language, which is not a surprise, and indeed a relief as I am trying for some breadth here. But seventeen percent of those who went to Mass did go to Mass in Latin, which is in itself suggestive. Seventeen percent strikes me as a lot for a liturgy that barely survived the 1970s.

And I still have some non-Catholic readers whom I greatly prize, as one prizes all jewels, for their rarity!


Anonymous said...

I answered that I went to the traditional mass as I did that Sunday. However, it was more like a fluke, as it was only my third time (second as a Catholic). Besides, even if I were to attend every Latin mass in our diocese, I would only be able to go once in a month.
I do love the Latin mass and I'd like to go more often, but I don't (yet?) prefer the traditional mass over the 'normal' one.

berenike said...

Did you distinguish between OF Latin and EF Latin? (I can't remember.)

Seraphic said...

No, I didn't. I said "Latin" meaning the language.

Mary Ross said...

I answered that I attended in a vernacular language, since I did that week, but I had attended mass in Latin the week before and the week after. It fluctuates. It's lovely that you're taking measures to know your audience. ^_^

Ginger said...

Was this poll recent? I don't remember it very well, though I do have a vague recollection suggesting that maybe it was taken a while ago.

Anyway, if I answered the poll, it would have been that I went to Mass, and it was the TLM. I don't even remember the last time I missed a Sunday Mass. My week would just seem long and empty without it. I'd probably be tired and depressed on the Monday following if I skipped.

As a sedevacantist, it goes without saying that I love the Latin Mass, and we'll leave it at that. ;)

Julie said...

Yeah, I said vernacular because it was true, but it was true mostly because I was with my parents; and while they tolerate a lot of my weird tastes they are skeptical of my Latin-mass-going. So I suppose it all washes out!

I still have a particular fondness for a OF mass done "in the style" of the old mass, that is, Latin, ad orientem, chant, no or little congregational singing. It's rare but lovely, and I think it sheds beautiful light in both directions.

Anna said...

De-lurking to say I'm one of the non-Catholics. I read this blog because it's like having a big sister to tell me how life works (particularly life with the male half of the population!). Seraphic- thank you for your advice and sense. It's a pleasure to read.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I answered OF Mass because that's where I was that particular Sunday, but I generally go to the Latin Mass once a month or so. We have both at our parish every week. The English Mass is at a more convenient time for me. Since both kinds of Mass at our parish are equally reverent, I'm happy at either one.


Jim said...

Also de-lurking to say I am a church-going Protestant guy (married 26 years) who found your site one day by accident a few weeks ago, and have enjoyed reading it greatly. I very much appreciate that you and your posters have and advocate high standards of belief and behavior for women. I find that very refreshing in this day and age.

There are still a lot of "Nice Christian Guys," or more broadly, just "Nice Guys," out there that are struggling with how to relate to women -- believe it or not, guys these days can go through a lot of ridicule from substantial segments of the female population if they still try to follow traditional standards of how men are supposed to relate to women. (E.g., the Apostle Paul's admonition to Timothy to treat younger women as sisters, in all purity.)

So the challenge is not just out there for women, it is there big-time for men as well, especially in a worldly culture that teaches that men and women should just use and manipulate one another for their own selfish goals and pleasures.

Recently, my wife and I were at a shopping center and, back at the car, I first opened the passenger side door and held it open for my wife to get in. In back of me I then heard another woman saying, in a cynical jaded tone, "well I didn't know men did THAT any more, I'm impressed."

Part of me got a little angry, and part of me felt sorry for this woman who apparently had never understood what it was like to be treated with respect by a man. I ended up just turning around and saying to the young woman, politely, "well, thank you," and then my wife and I drove off. Today's society is in a very sad state when it comes to how men and women relate to one another.

Anwyay, I totally support what you're doing in this blog.

Jim said...

Oops, my second sentence should have ended, ". . . advocate high standards of belief and behavior for women and men."

Elizabeth said...

I answered that I attend Latin, but couldn't decide if I fit in any category because I actually attend the vernacular Mass Mon.-Sat., & the Norvus Ordo Latin Mass & Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays, it just depends on the week.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

Aw, how come I missed this poll? ;( I was at a trad Mass. Low Mass, because half the schola was missing, but normally a High Mass.

Seraphic said...

I seem to have conflated Latin EF and Latin NO, which I didn't mean to do, but mostly because I forget the Latin NO is available! I haven't seen a Latin NO for 20 years, myself.

Thanks for these great comments!

leonine said...

Another one of your non-Catholic readers here, just piping up to say many thanks for everything (including the welcoming atmosphere here).