The minor orders were suppressed in the Latin Church in 1972.
Who knows if, down the line, through some gravitational pull exerted through the slowly increasing use of the Extraordinary Form and a greater focus on continuity with our tradition, they will be restored.
The way to minor orders was opened by reception of the tonsure. Tonsure is from the fun Latin verb tondeo, totondi, tonsum, “to cut, sheer”. Great perfect form, nonne? Latin for barber is tonsor. In ancient Rome something known to everyone, to every “Tom, Dick, and Harry” as we say today, was “notum lippis et tonsoribus… known by people with eye infections and barbers” (cf. Horace Satire 1.7,3; Terence Phormio 89; Plautus Amph. 1013).
I have written before about the artist Daniel Mitsui and his interesting art. In his recent mailing he shows a new image he has made of the ceremony of the tonsure, which seminarians in “traditional” groups such as the FSSP still receive. Here is Mitsui’s tonsure depiction.
This was commissioned by a seminarian. You can find more of his art HERE. Great gift ideas there.
First Tonsure, depicted above, used to make a man a cleric. In the Latin Church a man now becomes a cleric with ordination to the diaconate. This applies also to traditional groups who used only the older, pre-Conciliar books.
Tonsures vary in size. The monastic was usually the whole crown of the head. The more modern tonsure for clerics out in the world came to be a shaved spot about the size of a silver dollar.
Maintaining the tonsure was serious business for a cleric. In the 1917 Code of Canon Law, a cleric was required to maintain it. If he didn’t, he was to be warned by his superior or bishop. If he didn’t restore the tonsure within within he could lose the clerical state. That could mean loss of income from benefices, etc. And, yes, it was a way to keep clerics both under the bishop’s thumb and, importantly, out of trouble. The tonsure identified a man as a cleric even if he changed his clothing.
Let’s have a little WDTPRS POLL.
Choose your answer and then give your reasons in the combox.