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Author Topic: serving in the altar = being tonsured?  (Read 2650 times) Average Rating: 0
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Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« on: May 16, 2011, 12:53:54 AM »

many of the Orthodox young men I know have had to stop serving in the altar, because if they'd stayed for longer than, say, 4 years, Father would have tonsured them readers. 

I get the feeling that this was asked before, but I seldom find what I'm looking for when I "Search" for an old thread.

is there some rule or something that says that altar servers, once a certain age or maturity, must be tonsured?

also, to be tonsured a reader, must you have first been an altar server?

I ask this because several people in my parish want me to be a reader, and I don't want to look silly, seeing as I'm only just a lowly altar boy  Cheesy

thanks!!!
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 03:30:04 AM »

There isn't officially any requirement to be tonsured a reader after a certain time serving at the altar.

I think this is just your priest's way of trying to deepen the involvement of young adults that show interest.

Could be of course that your local bishop has made some instructions regarding this, in which case it actually is a rule in his diocese.
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 04:58:13 AM »

Laymen should ideally not be in the altar at all, although it's a very common occurrence. The service for tonsuring acolytes is no longer in use, but has been combined with the service for tonsuring a reader. Those serving in the altar should be tonsured readers or ordained subdeacons.
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 06:37:40 AM »

we have singers, readers and subdeacons (and, of course deacons or priests).
about half the men in my church are singers, readers or subdeacons, they take their faith very seriously, and so there are usually plenty of people leading prayers outside the altar as well as those who serve inside.
i'm not sure what tonsured means though, i have learnt orthodox terms from arabic and don't know orthodox terms in english! i thought it was a special haircut, but maybe that was in the olden days.
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2011, 06:55:34 AM »

I'm sorry I can't cite the source for you, but I've read that traditionally (I don't know if it is canonically stated), the sanctuary (iero) is reserved only for the clergy, despite many of our parishes allowing parish council members therein these days. In fact, isn't this prohibition of laity from the altar area the basis for prohibiting females from entry, as only bishops, priests, deacons, and attending lower clergy have a purpose to be in the sanctuary?
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 07:57:11 AM »

I'm sorry I can't cite the source for you, but I've read that traditionally (I don't know if it is canonically stated), the sanctuary (iero) is reserved only for the clergy, despite many of our parishes allowing parish council members therein these days. In fact, isn't this prohibition of laity from the altar area the basis for prohibiting females from entry, as only bishops, priests, deacons, and attending lower clergy have a purpose to be in the sanctuary?

There is a canon about this, I'm sure.
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2011, 08:55:00 AM »

i'm not sure what tonsured means though, i have learnt orthodox terms from arabic and don't know orthodox terms in english! i thought it was a special haircut, but maybe that was in the olden days.

When you become a reader, the bishop gives you the same haircut you receive at baptism.
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2011, 09:10:46 AM »

I'm sorry I can't cite the source for you, but I've read that traditionally (I don't know if it is canonically stated), the sanctuary (iero) is reserved only for the clergy, despite many of our parishes allowing parish council members therein these days. In fact, isn't this prohibition of laity from the altar area the basis for prohibiting females from entry, as only bishops, priests, deacons, and attending lower clergy have a purpose to be in the sanctuary?

There is a canon about this, I'm sure.
Grin I'm sure you are correct. Allowing for "temporary subdeacons" is economia. I'm sure there is a canon somewhere.

Advice to OP: If your priest wants to have you tonsured a reader (or subdeacon), accept it.
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2011, 10:55:08 AM »

There is a canon about this, I'm sure.

This is going into the Quotable Quotes thread.
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2011, 11:07:26 AM »

CANON LXIX.

IT is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (Holy Altar, Gk.), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator.

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« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2011, 11:15:36 AM »

I guess I just don't see why the young men would be so afraid to be a reader?

It's kind of an honorable position but in reality its not like their life would be drastically different.
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« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2011, 11:26:46 AM »


Maybe, they are nervous "reading" in front of others?
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« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2011, 11:36:16 AM »

Brings to mind an old newspaper clipping that my dad kept for years from the Buffalo News in 1944 or so. It seems that Archbishop Athenagoras and a multitude of Orthodox Bishops from all jurisdictions came to a pan-Orthodox Liturgy in Buffalo, NY during World War 2. Instead of celebrating the event itself, the newspaper headlined: "Would-be Clerics Collapse during Three Hour Service." Several of the ten year old altar boys from the Greek parish were going to be tonsured as Readers or made sub-deacons during the event and the heat of the summer day got to them first! The memory of that always made my dad chuckle.
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2011, 11:47:59 AM »

Generally if you're serious about serving at the altar, it doesn't hurt to get tonsured. Does a haircut and robe during service really matter? Of course its very dependent on which jursdiction you are in. In ACROD for example, you can quite easily serve at the altar for years without being tonsured. In the OCA, generally you serve for a few years and when you become experienced they tonsure you a taper bearer/reader. Then if you continue to serve they eventually make you a subdeacon. In the Greek church, I'm not sure it seems that anyone can chant, but official chanters are probably tonsured since they often wear a black robe. In the Antiochians, I'm not sure as I haven't seen any readers tonsured, only subdeacons and deacons.

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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2011, 12:13:25 PM »

CANON LXIX.

IT is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (Holy Altar, Gk.), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator.

Oh, Trullo. That barely even counts. Got anything from a real Council?
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2011, 12:17:00 PM »

many of the Orthodox young men I know have had to stop serving in the altar, because if they'd stayed for longer than, say, 4 years, Father would have tonsured them readers. 

I get the feeling that this was asked before, but I seldom find what I'm looking for when I "Search" for an old thread.

is there some rule or something that says that altar servers, once a certain age or maturity, must be tonsured?

also, to be tonsured a reader, must you have first been an altar server?

I ask this because several people in my parish want me to be a reader, and I don't want to look silly, seeing as I'm only just a lowly altar boy  Cheesy

thanks!!!

Well I can tell you that it probably doesn't have to do with reaching a certain age of maturity. At one point my priest brought up the idea of me serving, and I was probably 30 at the time, but there was no talk about tonsuring.
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2011, 01:07:03 PM »

hi orthodox 11, please tell me more about the hair cut.
do you get a bit shaved? i didn't see anyone getting a hair cut at chrismation, baptism or at services for readers and subdeacons. do you have to keep the same hairstyle after?
maybe it's something we don't do in my church.
i know in britain 1,500 years ago monks had hairstyles (celtic/old style orthodox(catholic) had to keep a bit at the front shaved, and latin catholic had the bit in the middle shaved).
but i didn't know people did it in the orthodox churches today.
i once met a catholic monk who had a 'pudding bowl' haircut like saint francis (he was a lovely guy, a missionary in a country with very few missionaries), but he was the only one i saw with a funny haircut.

and, if you are the same orthodox 11 from the other forum, everyone missed you when you left.
mabsoota  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2011, 01:28:55 PM »

CANON LXIX.

IT is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (Holy Altar, Gk.), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator.

Oh, Trullo. That barely even counts. Got anything from a real Council?

I'm sorry, we don't have infallible Popes.
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« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2011, 03:52:14 PM »

CANON LXIX.

IT is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (Holy Altar, Gk.), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator.

Oh, Trullo. That barely even counts. Got anything from a real Council?

I'm sorry, we don't have infallible Popes.

Who said anything about a Pope? And I don't believe in infallibility--for the Pope, the Councils, the Church, or anything or anyone else. But if you have another canon, I'm all ears Smiley Er... eyes.
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« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2011, 04:10:37 PM »

Canons of the in Trullo Council are considered obligatory by the Church.

If you don't believe in the infallibility of the Church what are you doing in this section? police
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« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2011, 04:14:20 PM »

Canons of the in Trullo Council are considered obligatory by the Church.

If you don't believe in the infallibility of the Church what are you doing in this section? police

Regarding Trullo, I know, and that bums me out. (Ok, not really, I do have issues with Trullo, but I accept it's authority). But were you unaware that not all Orthodox believe in concepts like infallibility when attached to something that humans have their hands on? I believe that God is infallible, that's enough Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2011, 04:17:04 PM »

What theologians believe that Church can fall into error?
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« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2011, 04:26:04 PM »

Me? Smiley

EDIT--LOL, that'll probably get taken the wrong way. That is my way of saying, what does it take to qualify as a theologian? I have seen others express the idea. None of them have "PhD" or "Metropolitan" attached to their name. But then, I've only ever read an extremely small slice of Orthodox writers.
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« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2011, 04:42:47 PM »

interesting.
can someone reply to me about haircuts?
i am confused. who gets them and what do they look like?
photos not necessary but would be a bonus
 Wink
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« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2011, 04:44:18 PM »

It's symbolical, not a real haircut.
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« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2011, 04:48:03 PM »

ok, but what happens?
i mean i have no idea what you are talking about.
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« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2011, 04:49:21 PM »

Priest cuts off 4 locks of hair in the shape of the cross.
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« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2011, 05:10:33 PM »

ahh, thank you!
so it wouldn't be really noticeable afterwards.
i will look more closely next time, usually at these events i'm standing behind 20 people and i'm not very tall!
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« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2011, 07:48:34 PM »

In some places, the idea exists that young boys can serve at the altar because they have a certain type of innocence that is likely to go bye-bye when they hit puberty and start drink driving, sleeping around, blaspheming the Author of Life, getting into pub fights and doing all those other charming things that young men are known to do.

Maybe this is your priest's way of making sure these sorts of boy show commitment or get out, haha.
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« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2011, 08:15:25 PM »

It's symbolical, not a real haircut.
Either way, if you're going to get tonsured, you better do so while you're young and still have hair. laugh
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« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2011, 09:50:16 PM »

For the sake of the poster's inquiry as to what is tonsuring, it symbolizes becoming a servant, like the slaves (servants) of the Old Testament, whose shaved heads distinguished them from free people.  Tonsuring sets one apart from the ranks of the laity, as readers are among the "lower clergy."   Your parish priest, your spiritual father, honors you by offering to have you so set apart in the church.

Tonsuring is part of the Christening service, too, after having been baptised and chrismated, a tonsuring is done by the celebrant, while the newly baptized becomes a "Servant of God," the tonsuring (shearing) in this service also symbolizes a "first offering," "bless (+) this Your servant (name) who is come now to make a first offering shorn from the hair of (his or her) head..."
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« Reply #31 on: May 17, 2011, 06:40:07 AM »

ok, thanks. maybe we don't tonsure minor orders in the oriental orthodox churches, or maybe i didn't notice that bit.
i will look out for it.

as for altar servers growing up and turning from God, i didn't see that so far.
what i have seen is young men growing up with a serious love for God and continuing this into early adult life.
also in my church the young women enjoy serving by passing the bag for offerings, preparing the water for people to drink after Holy Communion and by leading the younger children in singing spiritual songs and in helping with sunday school.
so, if we do all we can to encourage each other in our spiritual lives and work towards humility in our relationships and live a life of forgiveness and reconciliation, the children will see and follow that. allowing young people supervised positions of responsibility is an important part of that overall spiritual education.
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« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2011, 12:48:48 PM »

ok, thanks. maybe we don't tonsure minor orders in the oriental orthodox churches, or maybe i didn't notice that bit.
i will look out for it.



an anagnostis/reader is tonsured in the Coptic Church, by cutting 4 locks of hair in a cross shape, it's usually unnoticeable afterwards. A psaltis/chanter is not tonsured according to my knowledge or experience. I was only tonsured when I was ordained as an anagnostis but not as a psaltis.

If you want to know more, you can read this rather simple booklet by HE Bishop Mettaous : http://www.orthodoxebooks.org/node/418
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« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2011, 01:33:13 PM »

yea!
thanks copticmind, i have saved the book on my computer.
as i thought, i was too small to see all the details.
do we do this at baptism as well?
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« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2011, 01:41:30 PM »

yea!
thanks copticmind, i have saved the book on my computer.
as i thought, i was too small to see all the details.
do we do this at baptism as well?


No, baptism doesn't include tonsuring according to the Coptic tradition.
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« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2011, 08:47:47 PM »

I'm sorry I can't cite the source for you, but I've read that traditionally (I don't know if it is canonically stated), the sanctuary (iero) is reserved only for the clergy, despite many of our parishes allowing parish council members therein these days. In fact, isn't this prohibition of laity from the altar area the basis for prohibiting females from entry, as only bishops, priests, deacons, and attending lower clergy have a purpose to be in the sanctuary?

There is a canon about this, I'm sure.

Canon 69 of penthekte.  I've done research on it.  PM me if you want my notes Mike... Wink Grin
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« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2011, 09:02:29 PM »

I've alter served for around two years now much to my benefit. I go to some services because I am needed but maybe would have skipped them otherwise. Sometimes when I leave for Chruch I say: "Well, off to work"

I am a little confused about the duties and responsibility of a Reader. I serve with one Reader, one little boy and sometimes a teen who really doesn't want to be there . I think it has something to do with the terms of his probation...not kidding.

We had a sub deacon for a short while who really didn't know the drill. So I am confused. Do Readers Read ? I havent noticed too much more than Alter Serving by my Reader friend.

Alter serving is like being on a baseball team. We have hand signals and certain glances to each other which are understood and some complicated movements feel like we are turning a crisp double play.. You also get to see everything up close.

Also, Metropolitan Hilarion  is visiting this weekend so I am nervous about messing something up. Hierarchical Liturgies are complicated and the Alter area at our Church is very very small...  
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« Reply #37 on: May 24, 2011, 03:26:27 PM »

I've alter served for around two years now much to my benefit. I go to some services because I am needed but maybe would have skipped them otherwise. Sometimes when I leave for Chruch I say: "Well, off to work"

I am a little confused about the duties and responsibility of a Reader. I serve with one Reader, one little boy and sometimes a teen who really doesn't want to be there . I think it has something to do with the terms of his probation...not kidding.

We had a sub deacon for a short while who really didn't know the drill. So I am confused. Do Readers Read ? I havent noticed too much more than Alter Serving by my Reader friend.

Alter serving is like being on a baseball team. We have hand signals and certain glances to each other which are understood and some complicated movements feel like we are turning a crisp double play.. You also get to see everything up close.

Also, Metropolitan Hilarion  is visiting this weekend so I am nervous about messing something up. Hierarchical Liturgies are complicated and the Alter area at our Church is very very small...  

Generally the charge of a reader is just that, to read at the services. Be this the epistle, an excerpt from the Psalms, verses at communion, Hours, etc. Most times, however, a person is tonsured as a reader/taper bearer. This means that they are duly allowed to either read or serve at the altar depending on where they are needed. When I was tonsured, it was as a reader/taper bearer and I ended up serving a good number of times. Once in the capacity of Subdeacon when the Bishop was present and only one subdeacon could be found. Most times, however, it was reading the Hours or verses at communion and then doing the epistle reading for the day.

-Nick
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« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2011, 05:04:36 AM »

hey, marc 1152, did you say anything funny the archbishop like about the world not ending yet?
i'm waiting to hear if you 'messed up'
 Wink
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« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2011, 03:00:04 PM »

hey, marc 1152, did you say anything funny the archbishop like about the world not ending yet?
i'm waiting to hear if you 'messed up'
 Wink

We were Waaaaay too busy.

However at the meal I teased him about his Canadian accent.

His driver liked my car and is thinking about getting the same kind. I let him drive it around the block ( residential area). He floored it and tore around the block at 100 mph or so...Crazy f...ing Russians.
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
dcointin
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« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2011, 05:50:37 PM »

I shave my head, so would I physically be able to be tonsured, and would this prevent me from becoming a reader?
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Punch
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« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2011, 06:53:02 PM »

I shave my head, so would I physically be able to be tonsured, and would this prevent me from becoming a reader?

They would just engrave a cross into your skull.






Not.
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I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.
Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2011, 08:33:56 PM »

I shave my head, so would I physically be able to be tonsured, and would this prevent me from becoming a reader?

They would just engrave a cross into your skull.






Not.

 Cheesy
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 08:34:15 PM by trevor72694 » Logged

"It is true that I am not always faithful, but I never lose courage, I leave myself in the Arms of Our Lord." - St. Thérèse of Lisieux
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