Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Pentecost Sunday are known as "Whit
Embertide," and they come anywhere between mid-May and mid-June, at the beginning
of Summer (June, July, August). The Lessons read during the Masses connect
the Pentecost with the Old Testament Feast of Firstfruits.
The Gospel readings focus on Our Lord speaking of Himself as the Heavenly
Bread (John 6:44-52), healing the man lowered down through the roof , telling
the Pharisees that it is easier to say "Thy sins are forgiven" than to say
"Arise and walk!" (Luke 5:17-26), and healing Simon Peter's mother-in-law
The Natural Season
"Go to the ant, O sluggard,
and consider her ways, and learn wisdom:
Which, although she hath no guide, nor master, nor captain,
provideth her meat for herself in the summer,
and gathereth her food in the harvest."
Summer is the time
of growth and work, of preparation for the harvest that comes before Winter.
For the Catholic, it is a time of preparation for harvest on the spiritual
level, too, as is reflected in the liturgical season of Time After Pentecost.
Providential it is, then, that June has a special focus on the Sacred Heart,
to Whom we offer our labours and sufferings through the
Morning Offering. And providential it
is that there come in these months the Feasts of many great Saints who show
us how to do our work well, especially the
Feast of St. Martha, God's
worker, whose story reminds us to put the spiritual first and to order our
And in the midst of that work, God gives us great comforts; this season,
like all of the earth's seasons, fills the senses: the symphony of frogs
and crickets against a background of rustling leaves... fireflies twinkling
like stars in the forests... warm winds blowing through fields of wheat and
tall grasses... water lilies floating on their large, round leaves... skies
clear and blue, or cushioned with great wads of rolling white clouds, shining
pale gold on their edges... water that feels like cool silk against hot skin...
the sharp, green smell of new-mown grass and hay...
... And the colors, the smells, the textures of firstfruits: corn, tomatoes,
and eggplant... strawberries, blueberries, and plums.... wheat, and the hazelnuts
that cause one to think of St. Julian of Norwich's vision:
I saw that He is
to us everything that is good and comfortable for us: He is our clothing
that for love wrappeth us, claspeth us, and all encloseth us for tender love,
that He may never leave us; being to us all-thing that is good, as to mine
Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in
palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye
of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally
thus: It is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought
it might suddenly have fallen to naught for littleness. And I was answered
in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall last for that God loveth
it. And so all-thing hath the being by the love of God.
All of these things
have being because God, Who is Being itself, loves. Let us love Him with
gratitude and by loving what He loves! Let us "offer the firstfruits," as
the Lessons tell us, by offering ourselves to Him and doing what He told
us to do: to be good stewards, to care for the poor, to pray for the dead,
and, most of all, to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, and with
our whole soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength; and to
love our neighbours as ourselves.
Summer is characterized
by "dry and hot," and is associated with youth, the humour of yellow bile,
the choleric temperament, 1 and the
element of fire. Giuseppe Arcimboldo's fascinating portraits of the season
and its associated element lead the imagination in all directions: