January 21, 2005

The Monotonist Liturgy

a satire

I would like to report on a liturgical discovery made quite by chance recently. In a dusty copy of an old liturgical book, I came across what appear to be fragments of an early liturgy from a little-known heretical movement, Monotonism. The heresy takes its name from its originator Monotonus of Crete, who, among other things, was intent on unifying the concepts of kairos and chronos, and proclaiming that the eschaton had both already happened and yet was to be postponed indefinitely by a two-thirds vote of the Synod, motion undebatable. He appears to have been unduly influenced by the thought of Zeno (or Xeno) of Elea.

It appears that Monotonus produced little else apart from this Liturgy, though there are scattered references in later sources to a very detailed Monotonus’ Rules of Order, now lost.

The concerns of this heretical group are reflected in the fragmentary liturgy, which survives only in this very damaged manuscript copy. It is very late, probably dating to the last half of the last century, as it is written in ball-point on the bottom halves of what appear to be leaves of a legal pad. I provide here a transcript in translation.

The Liturgy of SS. Stasis and Perpetua

The Deacon goes to the Royal Doors, the subdeacons all the while shaking their sistrums and looking at the Wonder-Working Icon of the Clock Made With No Hands. The Deacon prostrates, and asks

Deacon: Are you done in there yet?

Celebrant: Not yet. [Lit., "It is not yet the time."]

. . . . . . .

. . . as the Procession takes two steps forward in honor of the divine and human natures and one step backwards in honor of the unity of persons....

. . . . . . .

[Dea]con:Have you anything to add?

Celebrant:Yea, verily.

Deacon:Silence. The Divine speaks. Again.

. . . . . . .

[The] Gospel book is moved from the right hand of the altar to the left and then back again.

. . . . . . .

Deacon:Could you please repeat that.

Celebrant:God willing and the people consenting.

People:He is worthy to be heard!

Celebrant:You are too kind.

People:No, really. Please continue.

A period of silence follows....

[The ms. breaks off here.]

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