I’m the sort of man they make an Apostolic Protonotary –(* Readers of PG Wodehouse will know Bradshaw to have been a British collection of railway timetables.)
I’ve written reams and reams of prose, and quite a lot of poetry:
To walk on garden-rollers is among my minor glories,
And I used to be prevailed upon to write detective stories;
I can also punt canoes (or, as they say in Greenland) kayaks,
And had quite a flair at one time for composing elegiacs;
I can look up trains in Bradshaw*, on occasions locomotory,
As undoubtedly becomes an Apostolic Protonotary.
In short, when I’ve unravelled all the complicated mystery,
About what the Holy Office does, the Rota, the Consistory;
When I’ve studied more theology, and don’t get quite so drowsy on
Attending learned lectures which discuss the Homoousion;
When I’ve somehow put behind me (with my poor command of French) a list,
Of authors whose philosophy is known as Existentialist,
When my learning on a multitude of themes is less bucolic –
There’s ne’er a Protonotary will be so Apostolic.
Then there’s the following extract from Francis Kilvert’s Diaries:
Then the Vicar of Fordington told us of the state of things in his parish when he first came to it a half century ago. No man had ever been known to receive the Holy Communion except the parson, the clerk and the sexton. There were 16 women communicants and most of them went away when he refused to pay them for coming. They had been accustomed there at some place in the neighbourhood to pass the cup to each other with a nod of the head. At one church there were two male communicants. When the cup was given to the first he touched his forelock and said, ‘Here’s to your good health, Sir’. The other said, ‘Here’s to the good health of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
One day there was a christening and no water in the Font. ‘Water, Sir!’ said the clerk in astonishment. ‘The last parson never used no water. He spit into his hand.’
Finally, a depiction of High Anglican life from Compton Mackenzie’s The Parson’s Progress:
In the morning at sunrise Mark was woken by Dorward’s throwing various articles on his camp-bed and muttering to himself in evident agitation:
‘Can’t say Mass this morning. Can’t say Mass. I’ve forgotten to bring the maniple, No maniple. No Mass. It’s that muddle-headed Mrs Gladstone. I told her to be sure that she packed all my vestments. And she’s forgotten the maniple.’
‘Well, you’ll have to say Mass without it,’ Mark replied firmly.
‘My dear boy, it couldn’t be done.’
‘Don’t be so ridiculous, Dorward. You can’t disappoint these poor people at the last minute. Besides, if it comes to that, you’d be restoring the original use of the maniple by tying an ordinary dinner-napkin to your left arm. You haven’t forgotten anything else? Have you brought the chalice?’
Mark knew that Dorwood was not serious in refusing to say Mass, and after a short argument it was agreed that the absence of a maniple would not invalidate the Mass.
‘Have you got the cassock and cotta for the server?’ Mark asked.
‘No cassock,’ said Dorward. ‘Don’t be so High Church, Mark. You never see the servers in France or Flanders bothering about cassocks.’