Monday 22 June 2009

I am an Ultra-Catholic....

My attention was drawn to this funny poem by Fr. Philip on Sunday, because of the line about colonial prelates. We had the Bishop of North Malawi, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Boyle, at S. Magnus to preach, and Mass was followed by a BBQ outside. I know that the poem has done the rounds, and many of you will have already read it a few times, so why not commit it to memory? Never know when it might be appropriate to recite it....

I am an Ultra-Catholic - No 'Anglo-,' I beseech you!
You'll find no trace of heresy in anything I teach you.
The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler,
But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a feriola.

My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
The Psalms of Dâvid I recite in heaven’s own native Latin,
And, though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

I teach the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
Explaining how the C. of E.'s in heresy and schism.
The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
I have not met the Rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

The Bishop's put me under his 'profoundest disapproval'
And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission-stations.

The music we perform at Mass is Verdi and Scarlatti.
Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren't so catty.
Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

We've started a 'Sodality of John of San Fagondez,'
Consisting of the five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
The Cardinals in Curia, the Sacred Congregations;
And, though I've not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected.


  1. A wonderful bit of doggerel from a volume entitled "Pi in the High" by E.L. Mascall. It was published sometime in the mid-1980s when I was attending St. Mary's Bourne Street where Dr. Mascall was in residence. I think I have a signed copy somewhere.

  2. "Pi in the High" was originally published 50 years ago, by Faith Press of blessed memory. Churchman reprinted it in 1984, as Fr Alexander notes. Available secondhand through the usual channels, such as Amazon.

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  4. According to our catalogue, the 1980s edition is a reprint of the original 1959 one, which explains why the verses don’t sound like this:

    I am a modern Catholic, and Anglican to boot,
    We’ve all got valid orders now but Rome gives not a hoot.
    I use the Sacramentary and face my congregation,
    I don’t know that much Latin but I love the ICEL translation.

    My chasubles are poly-mix, the altar cloth is plastic,
    I own a baked-clay chalice which I think is just fantastic.
    I’d like to have a praise-band but the faithful will not have it,
    They simply don’t take kindly to my modern Roman habits.

    Or similar

  5. The last line is totally brilliant.

    I also enjoy this. To the tune of "Onward, Christian Soldiers" -

    Like a mighty tortoise
    Moves the Church of God.
    Brothers we are treading
    Where we've always trod.

    We are all divided
    (Many bodies we);
    Very strong on doctrine,
    Weak on Charity.

    On Anglican soldiers!
    Saunter as to tea!
    Taste and etiquette shall
    Lead us, Lord, to Thee!

    I sent you a more racy version of my own making on Facebook ;)