CELEBRITIES hold sway in all areas of life. This is true not only in politics and entertainment, but also in religion.

Faithful to their vocation as “role models,” some of today’s most popular personalities stand up for their faith, unpopular it may be. Despite the demands of their career and the temptations of their trade, these celebrities do not only express their Catholic beliefs, but live them without pretense.

Mel Gibson

It is surprising to know that this Oscar-winning actor is in many ways more Catholic than the rest of us. Raised by a traditional Catholic father, Gibson wears the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, abstains from meat on Fridays, and hears Latin masses in his private chapel. Moreover, he makes sure all his films have religious and moral values.

Recently, Gibson produced and directed The Passion of the Christ despite the lack of support from the secular entertainment industry. He co-wrote the script, inspired by the four Gospels and accounts by two mystics. He attended Mass every day during the filming.

Faithfully married to his wife Robyn for 20 years, Gibson avoids Hollywood’s “culture of divorce” despite the enticements that come along with being among the “Top Ten Most Beautiful People.”

A father of seven, Mel is outspoken against contraceptives and abortion. In an interview for the Barbara Walters Special, he said, “One can’t decide for oneself who comes into this world and who doesn’t. That decision doesn’t belong to us.”

James “Jim” Caviezel

Acclaimed for his performances in The Thin Red Line, Frequency, Pay It Forward, Angel Eyes, High Crimes, and The Count of Monte Cristo, Caviezel once suffered from a foot injury, which benched his NBA hopes. But as the saying goes, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” The accident led him to a more successful career.

“I have no doubt that God put me in this entertainment business,” Jim said in the St. Anthony Messenger. The actor said that when he was a teenager, he felt a huge pain in his chest, “like a voice saying, ‘Please get into this business—this is what I need for you to do.’” From that moment on, Jim let divine inspiration guide him to stardom.

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Without any background in acting, Caviezel was accepted in an audition by Thin Red Line director Terrence Malick. The actor attributed the incident to the grace of God. At that time, he was secretly praying the rosary before meeting Malick in his office, and was pleased to give his beads to a woman wearing a miraculous medal, thinking she was a pious maid. The woman was Malick’s wife, who had just lost the rosary she received from Mother Teresa and was praying to get another from somebody special.

“And you walked in and you gave this rosary to me,” Mrs. Malick said to Caviezel. She afterwards endorsed him to her husband. Caviezel got the part.

Now happily married to Kerri, Caviezel continues the family rosary and Sunday worship tradition he inherited from his family despite his busy schedule.

“No matter what, we always went to Mass. It has always been a safe-keeper for all of us and the one thing that’s been very consistent in our lives,” he said.

During the recent filming of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ, Caviezel went to confession and Holy Mass daily to make himself worthy of portraying his role, Jesus Christ.

Mandy Moore

True to her portrayal of the chaste girl in A Walk to Remember, Moore said she’s a virgin and warned her fans not to expect her to do what other pop singers would.

In her latest movie Chasing Liberty, she picked a body double to stand for her in nude scenes.

Advocating “saved sex,” Moore came to the Philippines last Dec. 1 to perform for the MTV Music Summit for AIDS prevention.

With records of right conduct in her Catholic school, Moore said their parents raised her and her brothers to be good Catholics.

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“I’m Catholic, and I’m a pretty spiritual person,” she said in GP4Teens. “To pray and believe in something makes me feel good in my heart and soul.”

Once when Mandy was cajoled in a hate mail by her fundamentalist fans, she stood for her faith and said, “I believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles. I try to live my life according to Jesus’ example. That’s all that matters, right? Finding what is right for you and not for anyone else.”

Carson Daly

If there’s a chaste Mandy, there’s a chaste Daly. Made the 2001 Choice TV Personality by the Teen Choice Awards, Daly, who is now on his fourth year as MTV DJ, helped set a moral tone on music television.

A former college seminarian at the Loyola Marymount University, Daly left the seminary, believing he could serve God more as a layman.

“The transition from a Catholic priest wannabe to MTV star was not an easy or expected one, particularly in an age where people of faith are often being discouraged from populating cultural outposts like MTV,” he said in the Washington Times.

In Teen People, Daly said, “at MTV, I’ve seen the power that fame brings and the mistakes I could easily make with it. Backstage at concerts, groupies have offered me drugs, and attractive girls have suggested sex. It would be so easy to throw your morals out of the window in times like these. But I’ve found that if you live the way God wants you to, you’ll be rewarded, tenfold.”

With a cross tattoo on his lower-right arm, Daly’s favorite book is Cathedral by Nelson De Mille. He doesn’t approve of divorce.

Celine Dion

This music star would not have been one if not for a family priest who convinced her mother not to abort her. Dion’s mother, devastated after learning she was pregnant with her 14th child, had contemplated abortion but was advised by her confessor not to pursue it. For this, the singer credits her life to the priest.

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Through faith and hard work, Celine later brought her family out of poverty. Popular at 16, she performed for Pope John Paul II when he visited Canada in 1984.

The multi-awarded singer recently set aside her professional engagements in order to attend to her family and to her husband Rene Angel’lil, her personal manager and later producer. The couple started as best friends, and later kept their relationship secret due to the public reaction that might ensue from the fact that Rene is 26 years older than Dion. But she said realized that show biz is not a life, and she should follow what she said to be God’s message — to prioritize her loved ones.

Kerry Kittles

Who would have thought that this New Jersey Nets shooting guard could play again after four knee operations? And who would have thought he would later lead his team to the NBA finals for the first time in its franchise history?

Indeed, even Kittles, who missed the entire 2000-2001 NBA season, never expected his life’s miracles after his reconstructive surgeries. All the while, it was God, according to Kittles, who sustained him in those events that could have ended his career.

“My faith is a big part of me and my whole being,” he said in USA Today. “I was raised to have faith in God. Whenever I was down, I relied on Him even more. It gave me inner strength to persevere and eventually overcome it. I give him that much more praise for allowing me to play again.”

Meanwhile, Kittles’ fans don’t have to break into NBA shows just to meet him in person. Kittles serves as Eucharistic minister in Catholic churches. Attend one and he’ll serve you the body of Christ. With biography and interview sources from www.phatmass.com,www.lovematters.com, www.geocities.net, and www.dailycatholic.org.

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