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!