As his closest friends have often stated this week, he was a man of great contradictions: a Playboy fighter pilot became a hero, a romantic and a cynic, and as Senator Lindsey Graham said, a man who accepted his honor and his Imperfection would always be in conflict.
Through all his inner struggles with his mistakes or remorse it was his quiet faith that supported him. Few knew that the episcopal who refused to demonstrate his faith on the campaign trail could cite the scriptures in detail and served his prisoners of war in North Vietnam as a "chamber chaplain."
His own religious awakening began in this prison and the path ended here in Phoenix in his wife's Baptist congregation, where McCain developed a deep faith in forgiveness and God's grace.
These tokens that comforted McCain throughout his life traversed the religious services beginning today at the North Phoenix Baptist Church and continue on Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, with a private ceremony at the US Naval Academy, where he is buried Sunday on a property overlooking the Severn River.
The readings McCain chose encapsulate the lessons he wanted to convey: duty, sacrifice, honor, bipartisanship, service to one's own country, and commitment to a cause greater than oneself.
But they involve also the prayers that carried him out of his agony as a prisoner of war and helped him through his life journey as he tried to reconcile his mistakes with his heroic public image.
In April 2008, I had a long interview with then-presidential candidate McCain about his beliefs led his election campaign aircraft. Although I had traveled with him for many months, starting in snowy New Hampshire, when he was at the bottom of the pack and had endless hours to talk to reporters, his religion was still a curiosity to me.
Unlike other politicians He was afraid to use his faith for his political advantage, even as he struggled to win the evangelical voters.
I knew he was an insatiable reader, but he was startled as he effortlessly recounted how he quoted the scripture. He explained that prayer and church were an integral part of his high school life, where he visited the chapel every morning and Sunday night.
It was not until his plane was shot down over Hanoi that he began to rely on his belief. In solitary confinement, he wrote that he "prayed more often and more passionately than ever before as a free man".
His longtime friend Charlie Black, now Pallbearer at North Phoenix Baptist Church, remembered talking to McCain about this and reluctantly becoming the "room chaplain" for his fellow inmates.
"If he was out of solitary confinement (his kidnappers), he would not be bibleed, so he would make verses from the memory they could study together," Black recalled in an interview on Wednesday.
McCain told me that he is "maturing very slowly". He said he knew correctly about the Bible, the Nicene creed, and the creed of the Apostles, and the principles of his faith, but neglected them until that five-and-a-half-year period in Hanoi.
"The time came that I could resort to them as a net, as a way of redemption," McCain said in an interview in 2008. It was the same time as former Sen. Jon Kyl on Wednesday at the Arizona State Capitol Service noted that McCain "fell in love with his country when he was in another prisoner." Faith and its ideal of "Country First" intertwined.
In captivity, McCain urged his fellow inmates not to pray for their release or personal success.
That stayed with him. "I pray that I do the right thing so that I do not look back in regret or embarrassment or even shame that I have betrayed my principles and my faith," he told me in 2008.
He found a home in Cindy McCain's church in Phoenix, where he learned to love his pastor's message about grace: "We are all sinners, but we can benefit from God's grace if we recognize them Sins and go ahead, "he said.
This idea is woven through some of the Bible verses he chose for today's worship and those of this weekend, especially in 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 read by his son Andrew McCain:
"For I am already poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come, I have led the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept faith, now it is there for me the crown of righteousness, the Lord's who will give just Judge that day, not only to me, but to me also to all who longed for his appearance. "
The inclusion of these verses, Graham said, gave him the greatest comfort, that his friend was satisfied with the life he led and apologized for his mistakes.
Audience John McCain felt the need to reconcile his inadequacies, "Graham said, citing McCain's position change on the Confederate flag as an example," The private John McCain has been reassured that you can be forgiven. " In their entirety, the readings and prayers in all ministries represent "a Christian message," Black said. "Always try, never stop, and try to follow the golden rules."
In the Saturday service at the National Cathedral, the embassies of the Humility, Unselfishness, Opposing Oppression – a Topic in New Hampshire Senate Reading Sen. Kelly Ayotte "The Fate of the Righteous" – and putting the country before itself is also implicitly contrary to the values of the United States current president, former McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said.
Before his death, McCain pointedly stated that President Do nald Trump was not invited to the services.
"Even in death, he provoked a last fight, forced last conversation, a choice in oppositional virtues," said Schmidt, who angered McCain dismissively over his deputy comrade Sarah Palin after the 2008 presidential campaign.
"Trump is his Analogue, "said Schmidt," valor against cowardice, sacrifice for selfishness, service of greed. " He noted the great international interest in McCain's life that has emerged in recent days: "People see in McCain what they like about America: the traditions of our country, the values of our country."
In the last few months, McCain's friends were consoling themselves in the various repetitions of the chorus, which he kept coming back to in their private conversations: "I was not cheated."
From the program of services, they also see the friend who is the one Pressure felt to live by the example of his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, and the man who wrote in one of his memoirs that he was trying to live a life of balance between pride and regret, freedom and honor ,
On Saturday in the National Cathedral McCains son Jimmy – who followed the family's military tradition of enlistin In the US Marine Corps, he will read the poem McCain, Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson.
McCain's longtime co-author and close friend Mark Salter noted that the Arizona senator had read to him at the funeral of his own father: "It was a kind of code for him."
Jimmy's reading closes McCain's military tradition again. And it's classic McCain, his friends said, a "poet-warrior" and romantic to the end.
Under the wide and starry sky Dig the grave and leave me alone. Glad I lived and died gladly, and I lay down with a will. This is the verse you take for me: Here he lies, where he longed; Home is the sailor, home of the sea, and the hunter from the hill home.