A staircase is a succession of steps moving up toward a goal; similarly the Tonsure and the four Minor Orders are part of a gradual ascent toward the priesthood. Like a staircase each step prepares the seminarian to take the next one until he reaches the final step of the priesthood.
On Friday April 11th, His Excellency, Bishop Bernard Fellay, gave the clerical Tonsure to thirteen seminarians, and ordained nineteen to Minor Orders: twelve to Porter and Lector, seven to Exorcist and Acolyte.
In the ceremony of Tonsure, five locks of hair are cut from the head as a symbol of detachment from the world, and and detachment from self.
The Tonsure sets aside men from the world in order that they may “receive into themselves Our Lord as their lot and inheritance. As men are prepared for Baptism by exorcisms and for Matrimony by engagement, seminarians are likewise prepared for Holy Orders by the reception of the Tonsure.” (Archbishop Lefebvre, Priestly Holiness)
The Minor Orders may appear small in comparison with the striking implications of the Major Orders, but according to Saint Thomas Aquinas they already participate to an extent in the priestly character and possess some of the priest’s powers, for example, the power to sing the lessons in the liturgy and the power to cast out demons. Considered in this light, these Minor Orders are very remarkable.
During the ceremony, the ordinands touch the objects that symbolize the power of their orders. At the same time, the bishop says the words of ordination over them and prays that they may worthily fulfill their functions.
These steps of Tonsure and Minor Orders draw seminarians little by little into the mystery of their vocation. They are called to the priesthood. Such a lofty height should not be scaled in a single bound: it is fitting, rather, that candidates ascend step by step, that they learn the dignity of such a calling and prepare themselves accordingly.