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week a

WASHINGTON, JUNE 25, 2015 —US-COURT-The Supreme Court rescued President Obama’s health care law on Thursday for the second time in three years, rejecting a conservative challenge to the law’s financial structure that could have proved fatal.  By a vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that insurance subsidies created by the health law can be offered in both state and federal health care exchanges, or marketplaces, putting the landmark 2010 statute on solid legal footing for the immediate future and handing the law’s opponents a sound defeat.

week 5

CHARLESTON, SC – JUNE 25: First Of Charleston Church Shooting Victims Laid To Rest:  Brandon Risher comforts his mother, Sharon Risher, during the funeral service for her mother, Ethel Lance, 70, who was one of nine victims of a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, during her funeral service at Royal Missionary Baptist Church, on June 25, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21 years old, is accused of killing the nine people on June 17th during a prayer meeting in the church, which is one of the nation’s oldest black churches in Charleston. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

week 3

US-SHOOTING-CHARLESTON A family member of Emanuel AME Church shooting victim Ethel Lance prays during the funeral at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina, June 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

week 1

President Obama Joins Mourners At Funeral Of Rev. Clementa Pinckney CHARLESTON, SC – JUNE 26: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney’s funeral service June 26, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21, is accused of killing nine people on June 17th during a prayer meeting in the church, which is one of the nation’s oldest black churches in Charleston. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

week 2

President Obama Speaks On Supreme Court Ruling In Favor Of Gay Marriage WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 26: U.S. President Barack Obama gives remarks on the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, in the Rose Garden at the White House June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. Today the high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

week 7

US-COURT-GAY-MARRIAGE-RIGHTS  People celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation’s highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

week 6

Celebrations Take Part Across Country As Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Gay Marriage–ANN ARBOR, MI – JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice after the U.S Supreme Court hands down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage on June 26th, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

week 8

The US Episcopal Church voted to let gay couples wed in its religious ceremonies but clergy can opt out of officiating–SALT LAKE CITY, NEVADA, JULY 1, 2015, 11:30PM ET: The U.S. Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to let gay couples wed in the denomination’s religious ceremonies, reinforcing its support for same-sex nuptials days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.  The Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago, a lesbian married to a fellow Episcopal priest, hugged fellow supporters on Wednesday and said, “We’re all included now.”  The Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, became in 2012 the largest U.S. religious denomination to approve a liturgy for clergy to use in blessing same-sex unions….the faith’s House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops, which overwhelmingly approved the measure in a separate vote on Tuesday.  “In 1976, the Church promised full and equal claim to LGBT members, and we’ve spent those years making that resolution a reality,” said the Rev. Susan Russell of the Diocese of Los Angeles.  (cbs photo)

Fishing People Out of the Dark: Father Joe Martin

Father Joe Martin (New York Times)

On the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, in Havre de Grace, Maryland, there unfolds a 147-acre estate that has held the last hope for thousands of alcoholics, addicts, and their families for over two decades.  Since 1984, the estate has housed a private drug and alcohol treatment facility called “Father Martin’s Ashley”, known to some as the “Betty Ford Clinic of the East,” helping over 40,000 addicts and alcoholics begin their recovery (Story on Father MartinNew York Times).  The treatment center was founded by a jocular, perpetually cheerful priest named Father Joe Martin, who was always known for having a smile and a joke for everyone he met.  Father Martin’s life work was his passion for healing the chemically addicted and for treating them with love and humanity.  Why did Father Martin care so passionately about alcoholics and their disease?  Because he suffered from it along with them.  (Picture of Father Martin NYT)


He Qi, “Calling Disciples,” Contemporary

In our Gospel reading this week, Jesus calls the first four Disciples to follow Him.  The brothers Simon and Andrew, James and John were going about their work as fishermen with their families.  In Jesus’ time, fishing was done at night so that the fish could be sold immediately in the morning before they went bad.  Although we romanticize the brave fishermen, fishing was actually a disreputable occupation – if an honest one – in Jesus’ time.  It took place at night, and left the participants wet, filthy and reeking of fish.  There were probably 1001 fisherman jokes circulating around Jewish Palestine.  The fact that Jesus was out at night, recruiting Disciples away from their families, did not exactly make him reputable either.  Jesus called Simon and Andrew, saying “Come with me, and I will make you fish for people.”  If the people that the Disciples would be fishing out of the dark smelled as objectionable as the fish, their calling probably would not be much of an improvement.

The addicts and alcoholics that have found themselves on the shores of the Chesapeake, washed up after years of addiction, have probably not appeared very reputable at the beginning of their recovery either.  I know because I was one (although I did not personally benefit from Father Martin’s Ashley).  Alcoholics – in spite of portrayals in movies like “Arthur” – are not fun or cute.  We are people whose bodies, minds and spirits have been submerged in a bottle for years, and for whom nothing else matters – family, friends or job – except where we will find our next drink.  Alcoholics can be extremely witty and winsome – when it comes to getting our way – and then turn on the people around us the moment they threaten to get between us and our bottles.

Father Martin himself was a “wounded healer”, struggling with the same disease that ravaged the people who came to his treatment center.  Ten years after he was ordained to the priesthood, Father Martin was requested by his superiors to enter the Guest House at Lake Orion, Michigan, an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recovery house for clergy.  At Guest House, Father Martin became a friend of Austin Ripley, its founder.  Ripley became the motivating force in his recovery, the day Ripley told Joe “Good things will happen in your life Joe Martin; you’ll do what Popes and Bishops cannot” (Eulogy for Father Martin).  In his own disreputable darkness, Father Martin was fished out, and called to become a fisher of people.  In his recovery, Father Martin would give a series of lectures on alcoholism that were later videotaped.  The “Chalk Talks” – as they were known – helped millions of alcoholics in the Armed Forces and around the globe.  It was in 1979, on an airplane ride, that the idea for Father Martin’s Ashley was born.  In the tribute video about him (see link), you can see highlights of Father Martin’s career and a glimpse of his radiant personality and passion for healing.

Several of the people that I knew in recovery had been to Father Martin’s Ashley.  One of the things they remembered most was that he would greet every alcoholic and addict personally as they came into the treatment center with “Welcome to Father Martin’s Ashley.  Your nightmare is over.”  They described it as a life-changing experience.  While the expert treatment, care and education of the alcoholic no doubt helped them, all the alcoholics I talked to remembered the love of Father Martin the most.  Although Father Martin passed away at age 84 in 2009, the memorials on the treatment center’s website give tribute to how this man helped heal thousands there: “It is with great sadness that I read in this morning’s News Journal of the passing of Father Martin.  I will always hold a place in my heart for this fine man of God and it is only because of him that I am able to email something like this.  I attended Ashley in 1998 and never looked back and was able to celebrate 10 years of continuous sobriety last year.  With the help of Father Martin and a loving God I was able to do what I could not do for myself” (Tribute to Father Martin).

When Jesus touched the lives of “the least of these” – four disreputable fishermen, toiling away in the dark – he saw something in them that was far greater than they could see.  It was not a calling that was socially approved, but it was a calling to a radically inclusive, healing Beloved Community, from which they would in turn call countless others who were also “the least of these”.  Father Martin’s life work, like the ministry of Jesus, called people out of their own darkness and called them to do the same for others.  May we be receptive to God’s call out of the darkness – and in turn to calling others whose lives need to be touched by God’s chesed (unconditional, Covenant-backed love).


May we cherish, and not despoil, the cup of loveliness entrusted to our hands for a space.  So may the green land be blessed, whose smoky highlands yield their mineral riches to the soil below, and whose surf-bound coast is protected by necklaces of sand.  Guard the peaceful Sounds; protect the forest mantle, the pliant ploughlands.
































Here is the full text of Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool’s address at the Washington National Cathedral memorial service celebrating the life on Nelson Mandela on December 11. A video version is is available on the cathedral’s website.

He thanks those present.

(Summary) Thank you very much for taking time to honor this African son.  Thank you very much for loving Nelson Mandela as we did in South Africa.  My fellow South Africans we have come here to gather our senses and to recover from the shock and to seek comfort from this cathedral.  Thank you all very much for what you mean for us here in the United States of America.

The text:

It was on June 26, 1990, a few months after Nelson Mandela was freed from prison that he addressed the session of the Joint Houses of Congress in this very city of Washington DC. He had just been released after 27 years in prison, but was keenly aware of his own mortality. On that day he said:

“It is a fact of the human condition that each shall, like a meteor, a mere brief passing moment in time and space, flit across the human stage and pass out of existence.”  That’s what Nelson Mandela said on that day to Congress.

Nelson Mandela was right about his mortality, for today he is no longer with us.  But Nelson Mandela was wrong about his impact and significance in this world.

Yesterday in Soweto, South Africa, 95,000 people braved the rain, millions across the world ignored time zones and jet lag to share in his memorial, and over 90 world leaders deemed Nelson Mandela more important than the urgent business that confront them on a daily basis. Through their presence and tributes they refused to let Nelson Mandela pass out of existence.

In this country, this United States of America, along with the South African flag, the Star Spangled Banner flies at half-mast signifying that in Nelson Mandela, Americans found both a part of their history and a part of their future. Here too Americans gather to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life.  Here too in America they will not let Nelson Mandela pass out of existence.

In the last few days and over the next few years every speech and every prayer; every song and every poem about Madiba, will reconstruct his life, scrutinise his character, interpret his words, and exhort emulation of his actions as the world acknowledges that Nelson Mandela’s values are eternal in time, universal in space and enduring in every circumstance.

Nelson Mandela is not a flitting meteor but a fixed star:  a star that guides our vision, anchors our belief, directs our efforts, defines who we are, and keeps us hopeful in uncertain and confusing times. The world is troubled and its people yearn for something better. We are searching for a lost humanity and are yearning for an elusive solidarity.

We will indeed miss his leadership.

In commemorating his death and celebrating his life, we lament the abundance of eloquence and the paucity of integrity; the presence of words and the absence of communication; the exercise of judgement and the denial of justice. Nelson Mandela understood these subtle distinctions because he first wrestled with them every day of his life.

This ability to know himself as the precondition for knowing his people imbued him with deep faith in his own cause but enough doubt to see truth in others; sufficient confidence in what he stood for but enough empathy to grasp the fear of the other; and while blessed with a wonderful self- esteem he always understood that progress comes only from working together.

He therefore belonged to a golden generation of ANC leaders who were militant but not violent; who were radical but not fundamentalist; and who were revolutionary but not extreme.

The evil of apartheid required militant action, radical change and a revolutionary movement. Nelson Mandela’s ability to navigate such nuanced distinctions salvaged our very humanity in South Africa and created the foundations not only of a nonracial, nonsexist and democratic society, but also one that must be caring, that must be gentle, in which we are each other’s keepers.

Such leadership can only be built on courage. It is this leadership that the world desires, a world exhausted by conflict, bankrupted by war, and shamed by intolerance. It looks to Nelson Mandela to show again the virtue of engagement, dialogue and negotiation over militarism, morality over legality and the middle ground over extremes.

The courage that Nelson Mandela exuded was the perfect middle between cowardice and recklessness: he had the courage to avoid the easy passivity of the coward, as well as to shun the boastful bravado of the reckless.

Such insights come to those who see adversity as the opportunity not to nurse your injuries, but harness them into a mighty surge for justice; not to accumulate your grievances, but to transform them into an enduring commitment to human dignity; not to be cowed by the omnipotence of your opponent, but to fortify your belief in the inevitable victory of righteous purpose; and not to despair for the disparate and desperate and fearful mass of victims of poverty, hunger, injustice, inequality and oppression, but to galvanise them into a movement of inspired human agents engaged in disciplined action for a common goal.

Madiba cannot be a flitting meteor. He cannot pass out of existence because he has unfinished business. He is not here to do it himself, and so those who see in his legacy a worthy cause and those who see in his values a guiding light, we are called to rise to the occasion.

The advanced world is seeing the limitations of growth at the altar of never-ending consumption, and the environment is groaning under the burden. Our country, South Africa, with so many other countries of the South, especially on the continent of Africa, are on the verge of prosperity but carry still the burden of poverty, disease and poor education. The women of the world, despite advances in education, health and living standards, may be forgiven for thinking that with every advance is the proportionate deepening of patriarchy.

We are the inheritors of those struggles. But our enemies will no longer present themselves as they presented themselves to Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

We must no longer fear so much the Casspirs of Soweto and the dogs of Alabama, but we must fear the fading memory, we must fear forgetting where we come from, who we are, what we stand for and where we are going.

We must not fear the lynchings of the South or bullets of Sharpeville so much but we must fear the disconnectedness and insularity, the individualism and the selfishness that tells us that poverty is because of laziness, disease because of immorality and violence is in our genes.

We must not fear so much the whips in Mitchell’s Plane or the batons of Selma, but we must fear the complacency that will tell us that our struggle is over because of a “post racial” dawn that has arrived when Nelson Mandela went into the Union Buildings and Barack Obama into the White House. It is not over until God says it is over.

The long walk to freedom is not over. More hills are waiting to be climbed. Madiba is not here to light the path with his courage and his sacrifice.

Each one of us who has been touched by him, inspired by him, and moved by him must continue the long walk. We must confront every psychological, institutional and physical hill until we have won a world that is more equal, where women are respected, where the stranger is not otherised, and where our youth and children can dream again.

Our country South Africa and our people are deeply honoured that you have come here today to commemorate the death and celebrate the life of our greatest son, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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May 2022



On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory