Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Missals instead of Missalettes

Dale got me thinking, which is both dangerous (ask my wife) and too rare for my own good. Back in the days when I was still bound and determined to wear the collar (hmmm...I don't think I've ever blogged about that...something for another time) my then-Pastor mentioned how he hated using missalettes. Not for the reason Dale mentions in the link above but for a more pastoral-theological reason. It's something that has stayed with me all these years.

He asked me, "don't you think it sends a very bad message to people that we take this book which contains the Word of God and just toss it in the trash every couple of months?" (Aside: priests like to toss these little quizzes to aspiring wanna-be-someday seminarians - it makes you think of all the problems you'll face if you're ever ordained some day that you wouldn't even consider from the pews. It's no wonder to me he has two seminarians from his parish.) Think about it - what does it say to your average under-catechized person in the pews when we routinely take what should be considered holy items and toss them in the trash bin? Unfortunately the standard missalette is a use-once item - once the calendar rolls past the end of the missalette, it's not of any effective use for its intended purpose and they way they are laid out I'd be hard-pressed to find another good use for them.

So let's do a little math here to see if we can make this make sense. Let's assume we talk about an "average" church which seats around 500 people and provides one missal/missalette for every two people (that's the pattern I've seen the most) - that means we have to provide 250 pieces for the church.

Looking at Aquinas and More's Missal line, they have a daily Missal for $70, which gives full readings for every day not just the Sundays that your usual missalette does or a Sunday missal for $20 which would be equivalent to what we have now without the need to rotate them. Assuming they're crooks (which they're not - the owner is a fantastic Catholic from what I can tell) and don't give the parish a single penny discount even on an order of 250, that comes to a bill of $17,500 for the daily missals or $5,000 for the Sunday Missals. Again, these almost never need to be replaced short of damage since they contain the full cycle of readings.

Checking OCP's site, they suggest a price of $3.90 per missalette per year for "Today's Missal" (seasonal) and $3.10 for "Breaking Bread" (annual). That works out to $975 and $775 per year, respectively. That places a break-even in terms of price for functional equivalents at roughly five years, six if one prints sheet music and includes that cost in the missal cost.

I don't know. Perhaps someone can explain to me why a five-year break-even is too much to ask for in trade for proper theological perspective. Or am I just being a nit-picking twit? You tell me.