Most Holy Misrism
Most Holy Misrism is a very strict and secretive religion. Only surface details are known regarding the rites and beliefs of its followers. It is most noticeable for its requirement that its monastic members be covered by heavy clothing and refuse citizenship in all nations. Its spread has been very gradual, but over the past three years small communities of monks have appeared on many hundreds of inhabited planets. There are around 8300 known Misrists, and the average Hall has around 25 members.
The rites of the Misritic Church have always been clouded in secrecy. Its most well-known rite is the Solemn Procession, which occurs regularly every 28 hours, rain or shine, light or dark. Wherever monks have appeared, they have been known for their high-profile processions through city streets. They are always led by an incense-bearer, followed by any holy symbols, then the white-robed abbot, then the rest of the monks in pairs with a second incense-bearer bringing up the rear. During these processions a number of monotonous chants are performed, believed to correspond to the day according to the Misritic calendar.
The Misritic Church also lavishly celebrates its new year, approximately every 10 1/2 months. These celebrations begin with ringing of bells and gongs, followed by a dancing parade through the streets. This is extremely unlike the Solemn Processions, and when somebody who is used to one sees the other, it is very shocking. In these parades, bystanders are invited to join in, bells are rung, and the monks shout and yell with joy. After the parade (which unlike the Processions is timed to be neighborhood friendly and not disturb sleep periods), there is a feast in their Hall, to which all people are invited. It has been noted by attendees that the Monks have never been seen to eat with the people, but have merely served on them and engaged in lively conversation. The celebrations end with the singing of a rousing, fast-paced song, translation unknown, and the finally the ringing of a gong to symbolize the return to normal monastic life. Because those who stay to the end of the feast are invited to sing along, a phonetic transcription of the words are available:
Ahm-na Ahm-na soy soy soy
Maizar kee-pah wollah faht
Ahm-na Ahm-na soy soy soy
Restuh laht kee-pah hup
Ahm-na Ahm-na soy soy soy
Tee chee ree ree wollah faht
Uhn grah fustah wai-nai soy
(repeat as desired)
The other rites of Most Holy Misrism remain shrouded in secrecy, and include several weeks a year in which the monks refuse to exit their hall, except for a much-abbreviated Procession. It is believed that there is also a daily prayer and much meditation. Some crowded worlds, where Halls have been located in apartment blocks, have reported daily exercises and martial arts training audible through the walls. All this has been conjecture, since no monks have ever been observed speaking to one another in a local language.
The Misritic Calendar
The Misritic Calendar is based around a certain number of hours, divided into 28 hour days. There are 7000 hours in a Misritic year, divided into 250 days. This schedule is followed no matter what the local day/night cycle or year is. It is not known if this time is further subdivided into months or weeks, but it is believed to be by many who have had close contact with monks. What is particularly interesting is that monks, though not the few secular followers observed, are required to follow this 28 hour day for everything. When hour 1 rolls around, no matter what time it is locally, the monks all rise and perform the Solemn Procession, and when hour 21 comes, all retire to their rooms for a sleep time, even if that time is at the middle of the day. On Cresla II, which has a 28 hour day, the monks operate independently of the local cycle, always going to bed a few hours after sunrise. Across the galaxy, no matter what, all monks who are able partake in the same rituals at the same time.
The monks of Most Holy Misrism follow a very strict life, yet are known for their cheerfulness and strange inner strength. Every monk and layperson is required to dress from head-to-toe in thick, heavy robes. These robes disguise their shape, especially the face and head. They refuse to remove these robes, except presumably in the sanctity of their Hall, including for what may be mandatory safety or security procedures. This has lead to their exclusion from many areas where the loose-fitting robes may be a safety hazard. Many monks also object to body scans through the robes, citing a religious belief that their body should be hidden from non-Misrists. Misritic monks have also shown a dislike for interacting with others as more than casual acquaintances. It is also not uncommon for Misrists to abruptly break off conversation if it begins to approach any subject they do not want to discuss. Despite these strict beliefs, Misrists are often highly knowledgeable in many scientific fields, leading to rumors of hidden universities and libraries.
Misritic monks are requied to spend a majority of their day inside their Hall, performing unknown ceremonies. During this time laypeople of the church run errands for them and interact with the outside world. Depending on the needs of the Hall, there may be many laypeople working to pay rent, or there may be only one or two acting as couriers. Even the monks are allowed free time during the day, usually about one to five hours depending on the abbot. During this time they are allowed to do whatever they want. This includes meeting with the nearby community and charitable work.
On undeveloped or poor planets, Misrists are well-known for their charitable work. The monks and laypeople are willing to act as teachers, doctors, craftsmen, police and farmers. The only thing they are known for ‘’not ‘’ doing is trying to convert those they are helping. It has been noted that the free clothes provided for the poor are of very high quality, and are sometimes traded for many sets of inferior garments. The appearance of a Misritic Hall in a poor area has always resulted in extreme improvements in standard of living for everybody.
An unfortunately unhappy facet of the Halls is that they tend to be only temporary affairs. Though the oldest Hall, established over 14 Misritic years ago on Alpha Centauri is still in existence, most Halls have remained in a single place only two or three years before packing up and moving away, often to another planet. These Halls use one of eight private starships for such moves, and try to leave no trace of their prior residence except in the minds of their former neighbors. The eight starships are known to have been bought by representatives of the Misritic church from shipyards around Alpha Centauri. There is a ninth starship, of unknown origin from which the church is administrated. It orbits a nondescript yellow star approximately 75 light years from Earth so that its year takes exactly 7000 hours. Though moderately large, this starship is by no means extraordinary in any way except that it is the central hub for a galaxy-spanning religion.