From: Mary Zimmerman
Mattie Stepanek’s story was featured on EWTN’s Thursday night news program with Raymond Arroyo, 7 p.m. channel 21.
Mattie called his poems Heart Songs. He was a philosopher who played and a peacemaker. Mattie was such an advocate for peace. We have focused on peace during the Christmas season yet war remains. Peace was always foremost on Mattie’s mind. He and former President Carter worked to create the book “Just Peace: A Message of Hope.” Mattie’s motto for that was “Know peace, live peace, be peace in every time and space. Share peace with everyone you meet in your world, in your home and community.”
Mattie would be very, very sad to read the recent report of an estimated up to 100,000 civilians killed during the Iraqi war. That’s not even counting the soldiers. Was this war justifiable? I think not.
Mattie’s words “Live simply, but profoundly. Choose to make peace an attitude and a habit and a reality. Peace is possible.”
Jimmy Carter described Mattie Stepanek as “the most remarkable person I ever met.”
Mattie was born July 17, 1990 and died in June 2004 at the age of 13, of dysautonomic mitochondreal myopathy, a rare type of MS. Mattie was very sickly as an infant and teetered between life and death all his short life. His three younger siblings all died from this illness at a very young age. Their mother, Jeni, suffers with it as well and is in a wheelchair using a breathing tube.
Jeni home schooled Mattie after he experienced being bullied at his school for reasons due to his illness. She lives in Maryland and is an inspirational speaker and writer with a doctorate degree.
Mattie at such a young age began to write poetry, give speeches, write books, along with book signing ceremonies. He loved the spotlight, especially for the opportunity it provided to spread his message and philosophy on peace, on life, death and suffering. His motto was “ to play after every storm.” His health issues were so serious and lengthy, at times I’m sure he had to play during the storm.
Mattie found joy in trying to help others by playing jokes and making people laugh.
Check out the website www.mattieonline.com concerning the available books, etc. I have the following and highly recommend them: “Messenger,” The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs, “Just Peace” a message of hope with Mattie and Jimmy Carter, Reflections of a Peacemaker. All new poetry by the author of the New York Times best selling Heartsongs series. These books are reasonable. If interested in a DVD an interview about Mattie on EWTN, call me at 452-2570.
The story concerning Mattie Stepanek has really touched my life. I will never forget him. I hope you might feel the same. His legacy lives on...for us and for Mattie, let us all work and pray for peace.
Matter of Faith
From: Adam Burge
Pastor-Calvary Baptist Church
The recent tragedy in Tucson where six innocent people were murdered and another fourteen injured has raised again the question of why people do horrific things. One easy answer for liberals is that guns are the problem. If we just eliminate guns then there will be no other shootings. Yet how many people are murdered each year without the aid of a gun? How many people are stabbed, bludgeoned, poisoned, drowned, suffocated, etc? And how many murders were committed prior to the invention of firearms? Having a weapon which is capable of killing from a distance may facilitate murder, but it certainly does not cause it.
Another easy answer for liberals is that this young man was incited by the vitriol of conservatives. There are those who would insinuate that Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and others like them are responsible for his rampage. Another answer would be that this incident was the result of a failure in our system to detect violent tendencies in people like this and take action to avert such a tragedy. But then we must answer the question, why are there murders in countries which do not allow their citizens to even own a firearm, where there are no conservative voices speaking out, and where the freedoms of the people are severely curtailed?
The answer lies in the fundamental nature of humanity. We are spiritually depraved people. We are at our very core evil. Of course, this is not the anthropology which is taught or accepted by our modern humanistic society. If man is basically good, or if man has some spark of divinity within him which only needs to be fanned, why are our prisons full of murderers, rapists, and violent criminals? Why do we need the fine men and women who wear a badge and firearm and have sworn to risk their own safety to protect and serve us? Why do we not live in a utopian society where all is well and good? Our modern education and social systems, and unfortunately, the majority of churches in America today, do not have a satisfactory answer to the question. Their answer is to blame everyone but the guilty person.
The Bible tells that when God finished creating the world that He declared that the world was “very good” (Gen 1:31). When man is first presented with the opportunity to obey God or rebel against Him, man chose to rebel (Gen 3). It is shortly after this that Cain, the first child born into this world, murdered his younger brother Abel (Gen 4). In only a few generations, evil had become so rampant on the earth that God was grieved that He had even created mankind (Gen 6:7). In Genesis 6:5, we read that God looked upon the earth and saw that “every imagination of the thoughts of his [mankind’s] heart was only evil continually.” Even after God demonstrated His wrath toward sin in judging the world with a flood, thus destroying all living things not safely inside the ark, that mankind again demonstrated his evil bent. In Psalm 51:5, the Psalmist David would write, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This does not mean that he was conceived through an immoral act, but that he was a sinner from the moment of conception. The prophet Jeremiah would write, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9).
The New Testament teaching reinforces what we know to be true from the Old. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19 that “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders....” The first three chapters of the Epistle to the Romans is an irrefutable indictment of the sinfulness of the entire human race. No matter how good we may think that we are, God says of the entire human race that “There is none who does good, not even one” (Rom 3:12, NASB). Good, here, does not meant that which is benevolent towards others, but that which is holy and righteous. Paul, quoting from the Old Testament, goes on to say that mankind’s “Feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace they have not known.” Why is man like this? Because “There is no fear of God in their eyes” (Romans 3:14-18). Does this description, or that of secular humanism, best describe the condition of the world in which we live?
So what is the solution to the problem? It is not to resocialize man, as Freud taught, so that we change our values. It is not to change our environment or habits or behaviors, as Skinner taught. It is not that we help each other reach our full potential and be all that we can be, as Rogers taught. These three schools of thought concerning the cause of man’s problems cannot even agree with the true root of the problem, let alone agree on how to effect real, lasting change.
The solution, then, is not found in a program, but in a Person – Jesus Christ. We must first admit that God’s assessment of our heart as being wicked and sinful is correct. We must then admit that we deserve eternal, divine punishment for our rebellion against a holy God. We must then believe that Jesus died to pay the full penalty for our sins, accept that payment for ourselves, and turn from our sin. It is then that we are changed. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new.”
The Bible not only answers the question of why people commit such horrible acts, it also gives a solution – Jesus Christ. The solution is not restricted access to fewer guns, the silencing of conservatives, or closer monitoring of people. The solution is a greater access to the gospel. Society as a whole has shunned God and has sought to silence Christians and is paying the price. We have told God to leave us alone and we are reaping the consequences. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only remedy for sin.