"In the Northern hemisphere this week includes the longest day of the year, a time to look backwards and forwards, a central date. On such a day, "halfway through life's journey", Dante started his 'Divina Commedia' with the words, "Nel mezzo del camin di nostra vita." ("How do I see my life, moving steadily upwards?") The Church placed the birth of John the Baptist at mid-summer, when the days start to shorten, remembering his prayer: Jesus must increase and I must decrease. We see women and men who, while their senses grow blunter and their body slower, are steadily shedding their ego, growing in an openness to God, becoming more and more transparently a vessel of love."