Thousands of mourners stood together for hours on a brutally hot day, waiting patiently for the chance to pay their respects.
Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev apologized in court Wednesday for "the suffering that I've caused" in the April 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded hundreds.
Tsarnaev said in a shaky voice that he was guilty and that he prays for the victims.
"I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, for the damage that I've done -- irreparable damage," he said, breaking more than two years of public silence.
"I pray for your relief, for your healing," he added.
"Before technology, we were called to be communicators of good news. ... The church should be rooted in this inheritance."
We're gung-ho for the idea that the United States has a special status with God, and we're almost always proud of our nation.
But a new survey finds our flag-waving, all-American Fourth of July celebrations are also tempered by concerns that the nation isn't the moral leader it once was, that Christians face discrimination here at home and that some people aren't "truly American."
Hundreds packed the pews Sunday of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, readying themselves to bury nine beloved members and seek justice on their behalf as part of the church's activist tradition.
In an energetic and emotional service, the Rev. Norvel Goff assured those gathered that the victims, including the church's pastor and state senator the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, did not die in vain. Others echoed that sentiment, saying that while the city is preparing for funeral services, calls for reforms and social activism would also follow.
Archbishop William Lori reminded those gathered for Mass Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore that when it comes to religious freedom, American Catholics and Christians worldwide are in the same "boat."
In the day's Gospel reading, from Chapter 4 of St. Mark's Gospel, Jesus calmed the storm threatening the boat carrying him and the apostles on the Sea of Galilee. That boat symbolizes the church through history, Lori said in his homily.
Does a Southern Baptist leader's call for the Confederate battle flag to come down mark a sea change in the views of evangelicals about a symbol long wrapped in both support for slavery and regional pride?
Or will conservative white Christians in the South resist change even as a growing number of Republican leaders -- including S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley -- from the region call for the flag to go?
The trend "is big, it's broad, and it's everywhere." But what does it mean? And what does it portend for American Catholicism?
We say: CARA has repeatedly demonstrated that understanding the changing dynamics of the church is preferable to proceeding as if the church is immutable.
Kurt Vonnegut is quoted as saying, "People say there are no atheists in foxholes. A lot of people think this is a good argument against atheism. Personally, I think it's a much better argument against foxholes."
That thought might offer a good start for us as we meditate on the question of a good God and suffering, an underlying theme of today's readings.