“He must increase. I must decrease.” A note on the Summer Solstice

Today is the Summer Solstice.  From now, our northern hemispheric days get shorter, as the world’s tilt starts changing our daily/seasonal clocks.

I wonder if the LCWR leadership have special plans tonight!

An ancient Augustinian sermon made a connection between the Birth of the Lord, when the days go from shortest to getting longer, and the Birth of the Baptist, whose feast falls near the Summer Solstice.

So let both their deaths also speak of these two things: “It is necessary for him to grow, but for me to diminish.” The one grew on the Cross, the other was diminished by the sword. Their deaths have spoken of this mystery, let the days do so too. Christ is born, and the days start increasing; John is born, and the days start diminishing. So let man’s honor diminish, God’s honor increase, so that the honor of man may be found in the honor of God.

Very nice.

As the Baptist said, “He must increase.  I must decrease.”

I said, above, “Augustinianian sermon”, because s. 380, preached in a year we can’t quite figure out, might not be an authentic sermon of Augustine.  Still, it is certainly Augustine in spirit and style.

Is HE increasing for you today?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. RichardC says:

    Very nice indeed. I pray that He is increasing for me today.–and for everyone.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I first realized the liturgical references to light at the St. John the Baptist Birthday Solemnity, which is a big thing in the Byzantine Church, as well as in the West, on June 24th. Also, as you know and have pointed out to us, Father, this is the opposite of Christmas, and the references to the Light just coming into the world. God planned each day, with the Church’s liturgical years being inspired, of course, by the Holy Spirit, so that our time is balanced with prayer and the Mass. All this is so cool. Thank you for the reminder..

  3. ppb says:

    I loved it when I first heard about the connection between the St. John the Baptist’s feast day and the “decrease” of the sun after the summer solstice. I’ve paid more attention to the feast ever since. It will be nice to observe it with a little more solemnity this year since June 24 falls on a Sunday.

  4. And, of course, in addition to the Nativity of the Baptist coinciding with the summer solstice, and Christmas coinciding with the Winter Solstice, when the days begin to grow longer, the Annunciation coincides with the Vernal Equinox.

  5. AnnAsher says:

    Happy Brilliant Shining Summer!
    But, sigh, I can only say I hope I am allowing God to increase and I decrease. I pray it at every Communion. I’m focusing more lately on winning small battles for the Lord. When I want to sit, but ought to clean something. When I want to read but a sweet child wants another story, when I want to order out for dinner- so I can read longer! When I want a cookie! Or to do laundry tomorrow. Or to soak up the sun at the pool vs. swim. Etc etc etc

  6. Pingback: The Vigil of St. John: bonfires and witch burnings, solstices and snails | Catholic Canada

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