Satire: The Mimic

By Anonymous

In a certain kingdom, in a certain valley, a small settlement atop a hill, Steubenvillage, was alive with people of all manner, one of whom is of particular interest to our tale: Francis Underhill. 

Francis was an eager young man, always excited to grow in holiness, and, while still growing, to look as though he was already there. It is as the old scribes say: “fake it ‘til ye make it.” 

Our tale begins one fateful Monday, just after Francis had finished moving into Steubenvillage. Tired from the work he had done and the road he had traveled, he chose to refresh himself by going to evening Mass. 

The celebration was beautiful, with fervent and pious priests concelebrating and joyfully zealous laity worshipping. It went by in a flash, and before he knew it, he heard the celebrant cry out, “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” followed immediately by *thud*.  

Francis looked around and saw the entire congregation had fallen to their knees to continue praying. Being the only one standing, he quickly followed suit so as not to be the odd one out.  

He at first found it strange that having just spent an hour in worship, all these people wanted to spend more time in prayer. 

Then he went to another Mass, at which the same phenomenon took place. Then another with the same result. And another, once again followed by kneeling.  

After so many times, he had begun to appreciate this new ritual very much, finding the quiet moments after communion and the conclusion of Mass to be a perfect time to speak to the Lord. 

He then decided that he would continue this practice always and everywhere, whether those around him did so or not. 


At the eleventh hour past noon, as the village folk prepared for bed, a group of them got together and sang the Salve Regina, as was the custom in Steubenvillage. 

Francis loved this practice very much, but he was a bit surprised when he saw several of the other villagers beat their breasts at the words “O Clemens; O pia; O dulcis Virgo Maria.” 

Another Catholic practice he was unfamiliar with? In order to avoid looking the fool, he immediately began mimicking them. 

He could figure out the importance of this practice at another time. After all, as long as he continued the physical practice and outward appearance, the true meaning behind the devotional was of little importance. 


One Sunday morning, at the eighth hour Mass, Francis was sitting next to a young man he had seen in passing but never met. He seemed a friendly young man, and, more importantly, a holy one.  

This preconceived notion of his is why Francis was startled when the boy let out a sharp cough as they said “Amen.” 

At first, Francis thought it was just a cough, but then the young man continued to cough at every single amen, and Francis realized it must be intentional. Another practice he hadn’t encountered before, of course.  

Francis joined in, then his friend looked at them, saw their reverence, and joined for the next amen. Then someone sitting a few pews away joined, and then someone across the building.  

Eventually, the entire chapel would cough at each amen, and Francis was proud for helping this evidently beautiful, holy and mysterious practice spread. 

That night, Francis came down with a cold. He hadn’t a clue as to where it came from. 


Some time later, Francis returned to his home village and was saddened to see that none of his family and friends were aware of all the great Catholic practices he had encountered while at Steubenvillage.  

Sticking to his strong ideals, he didn’t waver when he was the only one to cough at the amen, jump up and down at the sign of the cross, pat his head and rub his belly at the creed and high five for the sign of peace.  

Soon enough, because of his perseverance, his entire home parish was as devoted to the Steubenvillage ways of prayer as he was, not one of them knowing an ounce of the meaning behind each action.