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Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild

2023 Lenten Talk “Knowing Jesus Better in 2023”

Guild Director Cheryl Kerwin delivered a powerful talk at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Derwood Maryland this spring noting that “Christ goes to His cross and He offers his very life up for our sins; the expiation of our sins.”

Cheryl said, “Jesus never forgot why He was born and the heavy burden of the cross. If we are true servants of the Lord, we must expect to experience suffering and struggle, just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then when He accepted the cross on the way to Calvary. Mattie was such a person too. He was wise beyond his years and understood what it meant to follow the Lord. He chose not to be defeated by his challenges and instead, turned his face to God, responding to the purpose God gave him. His Heartsong / his purpose, included dealing with his infirmities in a joyful, non-judgmental way (that is, not blaming God) and he conveyed that every day through his talk, his poetry, and simply his actions.”

Cheryl talked about how Mattie lifted people’s spirits and “offered to carry their crosses, through his talks, his reflections, and his poetry. He shared his conversations with God and is still influencing people to think about faith, hope, love, peace, kindness, and purpose.

Watch full video

“Crosses come in many forms. Just as in Jesus’ time, He and we are threatened with financial burdens, illness – both mental and physical, food insecurity, job insecurity, the loss of a loved one. Crosses are a part of our human experiences. Jesus didn’t give up on the Good Thief (Dismas) who was nailed to the cross beside him, and he doesn’t give up on us either. Can we take someone down from their cross today? Can we show them love instead of hate? Mattie knew very well that God never gives up on us. His poems speak of hope repeatedly. He most certainly wanted very much to live but he wasn’t afraid of dying. Mattie knew what it meant to be a suffering servant – to experience near-death, struggles, grief, and anguish, but to let God direct his desires and actions, and share in the divine blessings received by accepting God’s guidance in seeking justice. (taken from Isaiah 53: 10-11)

To watch Cheryl’s entire presentation, please visit St. Francis of Assisi’s YouTube channel.