Summer Solstice marks the day when the earth is at the maximum tilt for the respective hemisphere allowing for the longest hours of daylight. Throughout the world it is a time of celebration that goes back to the most ancient of times. In ancient cultures and religion it is infused with great spirituality and hope for light, fertility and life. Since the growth of the Christian faith it became a time of Midsummer Festivals, often with bonfires as a celebration of light.
Some would claim that this is another example of Christians taking from the pagan religions and making them their own. That is certainly one way to look at it. However it also can be realized to be a very natural GROWTH of the human soul to LIGHT. The correlation between light and growth is something very sacred and precious in the pagan religions. It is also a grace that the Christian Church holds in great fervor. In the ancient world as pagans entered into a relationship with Christ and His Church it was seen as only proper that this relationship would be a step of growth, of greater light. Of course for some it was seen as blasphemous to leave the beliefs of the ancient ones. But for many places, especially like the Celtic regions it was seen as the next step with their Creator.
In our present day, in some regions, the growth and resurgence of the pagan religions is often seen. The old arguments of Christians stealing from the pagans is seeing a resurgence. There are profound differences in the celebrations, to be sure. But there are also values that are shared.
As we enjoy this midsummer season, the summer solstice, we might look to the example of St. Patrick, St. Brigid, St. Francis and many others to help us better understand and celebrate the beauty and graces of Creation, to learn and respect the ancient lessons of the past as they anticipated the coming Light of the world. To borrow from the soul of St. Francis we can celebrate the great gift we have with Brother Sun and Sister Moon as a part of this good world God has made. May we all grow in the eternal light and life who is Christ.