Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tonsure and Quotations

I've done a little bit of research on the meaning of the tonsure (cutting of the hair) at baptism. The best insight comes from the actual service, as described here:

O MASTER, LORD OUR GOD, who has honored man with Thine own image, Thou hast fashioned him from a reason-endowed soul and a comely body (for the body serves the reason-endowed soul): for Thou hast set the head on high, and hast endowed it with the most important of the senses, which, nevertheless, do not impede one another; and Thou hast covered the head with hair, so it will not be injured by changes in the weather, and hast fitly joined together all his members, that he may give thanks with them unto Thee, the Great Designer. Thou, the same Master, through Thy chosen vessel, the Apostle Paul, hast given us a commandment that we should do all things to Thy glory: Bless, now, Thy servant, (name), who is come to make a first offering shorn from the hair of his head, and likewise his Sponsor; and grant that they may all exercise themselves in Thy law, and do those things which are well pleasing in Thy sight.

For Thou art a merciful God, who lovest mankind, and unto Thee do we give glory, to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

Taking the scissors, the priest cuts the hair of the newly-baptized person in the form of a cross.

Priest: The servant of God, (name), is tonsured in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Choir: Amen.

The cutting of the hair signifies a man's submission to God.

Priest: Glory to Thee, O Christ our God and our hope, glory to Thee.

Choir: Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy. Father, bless.

Priest: May Christ our true God, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother, and of all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, forasmuch as He is good and loves mankind.

Choir: Amen

An OCA article states:
After the baptism and chrismation the person newly-received into God's family is tonsured. The tonsure, which is the cutting of hair from the head in the sign of the cross, is the sign that the person completely offers himself to God -- hair being the symbol of strength (Jud 16:17).


The following is from the first rung of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John Climacus:
Those who aim at ascending with the body to Heaven, indeed need violence and constant suffering, especially in the early stages of their renunciation, until our pleasure-loving dispositions and unfeeling hearts attain to love of God and chastity by manifest sorrow. This is a great toil, very great indeed, with much unseen suffering, especially for those who live carelessly, until by simplicity, deep angerlessnesss and diligence, we make our mind, which is a greedy kitchen dog addicted to barking, a lover of chastity and watchfulness. But let us who are weak and passionate have the courage to offer our infirmity and natural weakness to Christ with unhesitating faith, and confess it to him; and we shall be certain to obtain his help, even beyond our worth, if only we continually plunge the depth of humility.

The following is from My Life in Christ, Saint John of Kronstadt:
The problem of our life is union with God, and sin completely prevents this; therefore flee from sin as from a terrible enemy, as from the destroyer of the soul, because to be without God is death and not life. Let us therefore understand our destination; let us always remember that our common Master calls us to union with himself.

No comments: