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Saturday, July 2, 2016
The Clerical Haircut - Tonsure
The Clerical Haircut - Tonsure
Ramses T Sudiang
Candidates : Br. Elias - Filipino and Br. Arsen - Korean
Bishop : Bp. R. Williamson Priests : Fr. Chazal and Fr. Picot Deacon : Rev. John, Carmelite Tonsure : Br. June Mark
@ Hearts of Jesus and Mary Seminary, Marian Corps of St. Pius X Society, Cebu City. Ph.
Tonsure, from the Latin tonsura, denotes the cutting of the hair as
well as the shaven crown worn by clerics as a distinctive mark of their
The origin of the tonsure must probably be sought in
the custom prevailing among the Romans of shaving the head of a slave.
Confessors of the faith were in some cases treated in the same manner
out of contempt and mockery. To proclaim themselves slaves of Christ
monks at a very early date began to shave their heads. Toward the
beginning of the sixth century clerics gradually adopted the custom of
the monks, however in a modified form, not shaving the whole head, but
leaving a narrow crown of hair. In this form the tonsure is still worn
by members of some religious orders. Generally, however, it was greatly
reduced in size until it now resembles a half-dollar coin. In some
countries, where Catholics form a minority among a non-Catholic
population, as in the United States, the tonsure is not worn.
In the beginning no special rite was employed for the bestowal of the
first tonsure. When a man decided to devote himself to the service of
God and was assigned to the personnel of a certain church, he began to
wear the tonsure. In the course of time suitable ceremonies were
developed for the adoption into the clerical state. For a long time
these ceremonies formed part of the rite, by which the first minor order
was conferred, and it was probably only in the eighth century that the
bestowal of the first tonsure became a separate rite. The wearing of the
tonsure was made obligatory for all clerics during the Middle Ages.
Tonsure is not an order, since no office and no spiritual power is conferred by it. It is a sacred
rite, by which a layman is received into the clerical state, and the
prerequisite for the reception of orders.
The word cleric is
derived from the Greek kleros, which means portion or inheritance. The
choice of the term is suggested by the words of God addressed to the
tribe of Levi, by which the clerics were typified: "You shall possess
nothing in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I
am your portion and inheritance in the midst of the children of Israel"
(Numb 18, 20). St. Jerome, commenting on the passage, thus interprets
the word cleric: "They are called clerics, because they are the portion
of the Lord and because the Lord is their portion." The Lord has chosen
the clerics for His special service, and they have freely accepted the
choice. In order to give themselves with wholehearted and undivided
attention to the service of God, they renounce the pursuit of secular
vocations. However, they are not left without the means of living in
conformity with their state, for "they that serve the altar partake with
the altar. So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel
should live by the gospel" (1 Cor. 9,13 f). As in the Old Testament the
Levites were supported by the rest of the people by the payment of
tithes, first fruits, and a definite share of the sacrifices, so priests
are supported by the faithful, the chosen people of the New Testament.
The word clergy, strictly speaking, designates all persons who have
received the tonsure, even though they are not priests; however, popular
usage commonly restricts its meaning to priests only.
Tonsure may be conferred on any day and at any hour of the day. If tonsure is conferred during Mass, this is done: Saturdays of Ember weeks and Holy Saturday: after the Kyrie. Saturday before Passion Sunday: after the Introit. On other days, if the Mass has Gloria: after the Kyrie; if the Mass has no Gloria: after the Introit.
The candidates present themselves for ordination dressed in a cassock.
On their left arm they carry a surplice and in their right hand a