Patriarchal Letter to the Bishops and Prefects of the Patriarchal Curia regarding the Tonsure and the Minor Orders

The administration of the tonsure is the formal ceremony of admission to the clerical state. Under this See and all its suffragan Sees, the tonsure is administered according to the rites for commissioning (ordaining) to the Minor Holy Orders as given in the Pontificale Anglicanum 3rd Edition, according further to the instructions given in this letter. The Minor Orders are Holy Orders of the clerical state, but are of ecclesiastical institution, unlike the Major Orders, which are of Divine Institution.

1. If the tonsure of the beard of a young cleric is to be given at the time of the first tonsure, then it is given according to the form provided in the Pontificale.

2. The tonsure, if given in the context of the Holy Mass, is given immediately following the Kyrie. If the Gloria in Excelsis is omitted, however, then the tonsure is given immediately following the Introit. The tonsure and the Minor Orders may be administered on any day and may also be administered outside the mass. If outside the mass, the Bishop wears the cope and mitre.

3. For the giving of the tonsure, the rite is exactly the same as for the conferring of the Minor Orders, except that the word "Cleric" is used rather than the name of the other Orders, and instead of the laying on of hands, the tonsure is given, followed by the imposition of the surplice. The rite for the tonsure is carried out in all cases separately and distinctly, even if other Minor Orders are to be conferred at the same time. All candidates for tonsure are presented before the Bishop, standing. They then kneel before the Bishop for the interrogation.

4. The candidate to receive the first tonsure is dressed in clerical cassock, with the brother collar, or if admitted as a seminarian, the full collar. If he is in a religious order and is receiving the first tonsure, he wears the habit of the order. Over his left arm he carries his folded surplice and a lighted candle in the right hand. At the giving of the tonsure, the following Antiphon and Psalm are sung by the choir:

Antiphon: Tu es, Domine, qui restitues haereditatem meam mihi.

Psalm 15

Conserva me, Domine, quoniam speravi in te: * dixi Domino: Deus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non eges.

Sanctis, qui sunt in terra ejus: * mirificavit omnes voluntates meas in eis.

Multiplicatae sunt infirmitates eorum: * postea acceleraverunt.

Non congregabo conventicula eorum de sanguinibus: * nec memor ero nominum eorum per labia mea.

(The Gloria Patri is not sung.)

Repeat the antiphon: Tu es, Domine, qui restitues haereditatem meam mihi.

Antiphon: It is Thou, O Lord, that wilt restore my inheritance to me.

Psalm 15

Preserve me, O Lord, for I have put my trust in Thee: * I have said to the Lord: Thou art my God, for Thou hast no need of my goods.

To the saints who are in His land: * He hath made wonderful all my desires in them.

Their infirmities were multiplied: * afterward thy made haste.

I will not gather together their meetings for blood offerings: * nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips.

(The Glory be is not sung.)

Repeat the antiphon: It is Thou, O Lord, that wilt restore my inheritance to me.

     

5. The tonsure is given by the Bishop, who sits at the faldstool before the altar wearing the mitre. It is given by cutting small pieces of the hair in five locations so as to form a cross. These locations are, in order, the front, the top-back, the new cleric's top-right, the top-left, and the center of the crown. After the tonsure, the surplice is placed on the new cleric by the Bishop, who is still seated with the mitre, with these words:

    May the Lord clothe thee with the new man, who is created according to God in justice and true holiness.

6. After the investiture with the surplice, the Bishop concludes the entirety of the rite as given in the Pontificale for the new clerics before proceeding with the mass or, if the rites are being conducted outside the mass, the commissioning to the several Minor Orders.

7. If a new cleric is to receive the first tonsure and one or more of the Minor Orders on the same day, he participates in the entirety of the rite for the tonsure and admission to the clerical state and then participates in the rites for commissioning (ordaining) to the Minor Orders.

8. The rite for commissioning (ordaining) to the Minor Orders is done once, incorporating all the appropriate elements for the Minor Orders to be conveyed. All candidates for Minor Orders are presented before the Bishop, standing. Those who are to take the higher orders sit while those who are to receive the first order to be given kneel before the Bishop for the interrogation. Those who are to receive the Order of Porter receive the laying on of hands first, then the Order of Lector, then Exorcist, and then Acolyte. The administration of each order begins with the interrogation, with the candidates for that Order kneeling before the Bishop. Then follows the interrogation, Litany of the Saints and the laying on of hands and other rites for Sub-Deacons. Then the concluding rites through the benediction are said at the end of the rite for each individual Order, but all that which follows the benediction is said once for all candidates to the Minor Orders after all commissionings have been done.

9. If one cleric is to receive multiple Minor Orders in a single rite, then he receives them in order with a separate and distinct interrogation and laying on of hands for each order. If he is to receive one or more of the orders of Porter through Acolyte inclusive, and then the Sub-Diaconate, then he retires to the sacristy after receiving the order of Acolyte to vest in amice, alb, and cincture prior to the interrogation for the Sub-Diaconate and the Litany of the Saints.

 

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