The meaning of Easter in an eggshell
SIR – The thing about Easter egg hunts (News focus, April 14) is that they are grounded in the symbolic meaning of the egg as the container of new life promised by the Resurrection. This central point has been missed by commentators: an egg hunt, without qualification, is surely the province of those in search of the layings of their free-range hens.
In Jewish culture, abstention from eggs during Passover is brought to an end with a symbolic single egg on a plate. Clearly the symbolic nature of the egg does not begin with or belong exclusively to Christianity; the nature of the symbolic is that it is open and available to interpretation.
Constantine, when converting to Christianity, did not require people to give up pagan practices, so it is likely that some were incorporated into Christian practices. The provenance of the Easter egg custom is not the concern: Easter has a cultural meaning within society that goes beyond individual faith, and a loss of awareness of the symbolic leaves the individual isolated – or communing with the “selfie” self.
Stop blaming those terrible ‘feminists’
SIR – David Goodhart (Cover story, April 21) deplores the “decline of traditional female altruism” (how is that measured? Who were the beneficiaries – men?) and blames feminists for the decline of the married, two-parent family.
Huh! What about the decline of male commitment to relationships? If boys and men cannot keep up educationally, maybe they should work as hard as the girls and women do. Relying on old gender privileges will not serve any longer. Women (apart from the rich) have always had to work to support themselves and their dependants (parents as well as children).
All that has changed is that men like Mr Goodhart seem to resent their encroachment on traditional male employment territory, and so lash out at those terrible “feminists”.
Deborah Jones (Dr)
SIR – London’s “new monasticism” sounds attractive (Feature, April 7). However, Sam Hickford questions some aspects of the movement: diversity of purpose, and whether such predominantly unprofessed membership can be called “monastic”, even if it does follow some form of Benedictine life.
Here in Bristol, public forms of lay participation in praying the Divine Office seem to be on the wane in the inner city, although daily Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in St James’ and St Mary-on-the-Quay continues. Morning prayer before Mass at St Nicholas of Tolentino is retained on two days.
Past contemplative and active communities of the diocese have welcomed and encouraged lay participation in praying the Office. It is not surprising, therefore, that a Carmelite nun from another diocese was concerned when told that, although we meet during Lent and Advent to pray the Office together, we are not allowed by Clifton diocese to do this as a community, on any diocesan property.
We continue to pray the Office daily in our homes since the suspension of Neocatechumenate liturgies here 20 years ago.
Pauline Harvey (Mrs)
SIR – Pope Francis’s visit to Sweden to attend Luthern celebrations of Luther’s life and work was an inspiration for many Catholics. Especially those who see the urgent need for sincere Christians to come closer together in this troubled world.
I was therefore surprised to read “The choir that makes Luther sound charming” (Music, April 14), where Michael White wrote: “Readers of the Catholic Herald are unlikely to be overcome with enthusiasm for the quincentenary of the Reformation, which occurs this year.”
I suggest that there are more Catholic Herald readers than he thinks who are delighted with Pope Francis’s approach to the Lutheran Church.
David J Murnaghan
Disowning a quote
SIR – In discussions about Syria we must avoid the reduction to binary positions which pervades much of our media – and your News Focus (April 21) did a fine job of avoiding the stark black and white statements that often reduce debates on Syria to caricature.
However, I must disown the quote attributed to me: “Christians assert that the only person who can bring peace to Syria is Assad.” The source the Herald cited (graceformuslims.org) abridged an article I wrote for Lapido Media, and the statement was not mine.
When many Christians have been forced out of homes by extremists, it is easy to see why Assad is an attractive option for them. But for many I have spoken to he does not represent a solution to the crisis in Syria, so much as the lesser of two evils. So it is not accurate to say Christians see Assad as the only one who can bring peace – but to exclude the Assad regime from peace talks is equally foolhardy. And peace is required to allow Christians to once more be the leaven in Syria and resume their historic roles as bridge builders between different religious and ethnic groups.
Aid to the Church in Need, Sutton, Surrey
Spoilt for choice
SIR – I read your leading article (April 7) with interest. The criticism of the faulty implementation of liturgical changes is something that I have complete understanding of. I am lucky enough to attend the Brompton Oratory where, when I don’t attend the Tridentine Mass, I get to attend the most beautiful and reverent application of the Novus Ordo Missae. It really is inspiring and gives Mass the respect that the modern interpretation lacks.
The major drawback, of course, is that it is hard to enjoy Mass anywhere else.
SIR – Now that the Christian churches have more or less exhausted the topics of gender and sexuality, let us hope that we are entering a new era of Christian freedom to explore other themes without distractions or obstacles.
Unless the bishops decide to focus upon transexuality, the last bastion of gender and sex, we can all start looking at other areas of concern to Christians, especially with our increasingly multifaith and secular society.
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