A reposting of last year's homage to today's solemnity.
Of course, the bonfires predate the Baptist. It's one of those pagan customs co-opted by the Church when she co-opted Midsummer Night, exorcising its demons and baptizing whatever was harmless merriment. Now that the mighty prophet John owns June 24th, we can safely laugh at demons, fairies, leprechauns, and the other assorted lower classes of fallen angels thought to inhabit forests, rivers, meadows, and underground caves. Hence the fitness of Shakespeare's comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this story, fairies take advantage of the power they have on this night to inflict magical love spells on hapless mortals who fall into the crossfire of a dispute between the King and Queen of the fairy kingdom. The redeemed can safely laugh at such things, since they have no reason to fear them.
|Bottom and the Fairy Queen
Weather and zoning law permitting, light a bonfire tonight in honor of St. John the Baptist. Otherwise, grill your dinner and tell your children the meaning of those lesser flames.
And don't miss Augustine's sermon in the Office of Readings.(check it on the ibreviary gadget on the left; click office of readings and scroll down to second reading.) I love his humble disclaimers that his thoughts may be unworthy of the dignity of this feast, but that the Holy Spirit within each listener will help him make the most of it. Better still is his illustration of how John belonged to both old and new testaments: As a representative of the past he is born of aged parents; as a herald of the new era, he is declared a prophet while still in his mother's womb.
I wonder if this tiny pre-born prophet has been designated a patron of the pro-life movement?