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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Actor Mark Wahlberg Walking in the Footsteps of St. Paul...

St. Paul the Apostle once wrote, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

It is a contradiction in today's culture, that seems to be more interested in promoting and prolonging adolescence and immature behavior (especially in men), in the likes of The Hangover, than of growing up and taking responsibility.  

Mark Wahlberg
Yet, it may explain the metamorphosis in the life of one time bad boy turned mega movie star, Mark Wahlberg. 

Alright, so he may not have been able to stop the terrorists from crashing planes into the World Trade Center, but Wahlberg, who is 40, is a devout Catholic and says to be uncompromising on his beliefs, which affect every aspect of his life (another reason for me to love The Italian Job, besides the high speed car and boat chases, the plot, great cast and beautiful Italian scenery!).

It’s not often that a Hollywood star opens up about their faith. However, while promoting his new movie, Contraband, during a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan (see below), Wahlberg was not shy about discussing his religious beliefs, the role of those beliefs in his life and what attending church every day gives him.

“A very clear focus of what’s important, expressing my gratitude for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me and a reminder every day of what I need to do and what I need to focus on and what I need to stay away from.”

The one time original member of the boy band, New Kids On The Block, with his older brother Donnie, before going on his own as Marky Mark and becoming a Calvin Klein underwear model, comes from a rough and tumble upbringing. You can say he’s from the wrong side of the tracks.

The actor is one of nine children, whose parents divorced when he was eleven, and grew up in a poor neighborhood near south Boston.  The streets became his playground.

Being young and rebellious, he looked up to some of the neighborhood guys and ended up addicted to crack cocaine in his early teens, got involved with gangs, dropped out of high school at sixteen (although he later earned his GED) and ended up in prison, after a series of minor felonies, a year later.  

The experience left a mark on him (pun intended).  He knew he needed to change his ways because he never wanted to be locked up again.  A parish priest from his childhood helped guide him and Wahlberg quit the gang and turned his back on crime. 

“I had to make a choice. I decided to concentrate on my faith and my faith has allowed me to overcome a lot of things, (that) and hard work. Nothing comes easy, especially when you have your back against the wall and you have a lot against you.”

Despite his early struggles, Wahlberg has never blamed his upbringing or considered himself a victim of his environment. He takes full responsibility for his actions.

Now, he says his faith and his family are the most important parts of his life.  Wahlberg married longtime girlfriend, model Rhea Durham, in 2009, with whom he has four children.  

During the interview, Morgan asked him what he prayed for.

“I pray to be a good servant to God, a father, a husband, a son, a friend, brother and uncle. A good neighbor, a good leader to those who look up to me and a good follower to those who are serving God and doing the right thing and people that I look up to and try to emulate.”

In 2001, Wahlberg established a foundation, the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, to help inner city kids try to avoid the many traps that he fell into during his youth. He says he feels an obligation to give back for all the blessings he has received.

His purging of his old self includes the painful removal of his tattoos (including a rosary that was inked around his neck with a crucifix and the words, "In God I Trust" that rested on his heart ), which he described on The David Letterman Show akin to someone flicking grease on him over and over again.

The actor says he is removing them because he wants to set a good example for his kids. In fact, he takes the two older ones with him so they could see how much they hurt to remove. He hopes it'll keep them from wanting tattoos.

The young neighborhood kid became a man.   

Although, he will forever walk the fine line between the temptations of Hollywood stardom and his convictions, Wahlberg’s conversion and attempt to live according to his faith, are a testament to how God can change a person’s life; no matter where it begins.

Of course, if one considers the Christian experience, it is not that uncommon.

If you recall, St. Paul’s own background was a bit questionable, to say the least.  He was a Christian bounty hunter (sans the leather and tattoos).  He tracked them down, arrested them and led them to their certain deaths; not exactly altar boy material.

As Mick Jagger sings, "St. Paul the persecutor was a cruel and sinful man.  Jesus hit him with a blinding light and then his life began."

It seems, instead of the road to Damascus, Wahlberg's blinding light came in a prison cell.

As someone in the national spotlight, with probably millions of fans, after putting aside his childish ways, it appears Wahlberg has a chance to follow in St. Paul's footsteps by witnessing his faith and, hopefully, influencing many...


Gabriel Austin said...

What is there to comment? The thing speaks for itself.

Aged parent said...

Who is Mark Wahlberg?

And if I find out, should I care?

Tito Edwards said...

Aged Parent,

You should care that he acknowledges his sins and wants to walk the narrow path of faith. Such an example should inspire others caught up in the world of vice and licentious behavior.

He's not perfect and most likely fails in still many other areas, but he is trying and is on the right path.

yoobee said...

I'm not sure when his conversion of the heart took place, but Mark Wahlberg made some fairly offensive movies/shows during his career. The two examples that come to mind are Boogie Nights and the show Entourage on HBO.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Mr. Wahlberg, and I do commend him for getting his life on the right track. Still, it is important to recognize that often the consequences of a celebrity's poor decisions remain; these residual effects can confuse those who look up to him as a role model.

Tito Edwards said...


Excellent point.

I don't think the article was holding him up as a role model.

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Having a brother that is in the acting business, anytime I find a high profile personality talking openingly about his or her faith is uplifting to me.

Obviously, Wahlberg is a work in progress, then again, so am I.

God bless.

Mary June D. said...

Wow! He's a Catholic! I thought that Hollywood celebrities are worldly and don't care anything about God or religion. That's why I don't have any favorite Hollywood celebrity. I'm wrong, thanks for this post. Very enlightening.

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you, Mary June.

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Thank you, Anonymous for your feedback. It is greatly appreciated. Hope your friend enjoys it as well.
God bless...