Salt in the Most Unusual Places

The Pietà (1499), a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo and displayed at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, is an example of the Catholic Church's support for the arts.

Last week I had the fortunate opportunity to travel with seven of my children and my husband to Los Angeles to visit my oldest son who is now living in Hollywood and working at a talent agency in Beverly Hills.

When Catholic friends or family find out that my son has moved to Hollywood they sometimes act a little surprised.  Some have even commented sarcastically, “Well, how’s that going?” or even “I would NEVER go out to that God-forsaken place!”  Sometimes I just get an “Ohhhhhhhh.”  Or silence. The truth is, I never planned on my son moving 2,000 miles away and never truly considered his career as being in the movie industry, but as life unfolded my husband and I didn’t feel it was right to try to prevent it if his career opportunities lie in that direction and he felt God pulled him there.  My husband and I provided solid catechesis to the children and modeled an active sacramental life to the best of our ability while they were growing up . We stressed that so long as the children live their Catholic faith and retain their morals and values of their upbringing, we will support their careers and location choices, even if it takes them far from us. Who are we to thwart what God may have in the works for them?

Knowing that God has a unique mission or plan for each of us, and being familiar with my sister’s own unusual vocation (she is a consecrated lay person who recently took diocesan hermit vows and once served as a missionary in Siberia and Africa), we easily realized that an “average”, cookie cutter life is not always what God has planned. Sometimes he calls people to be “missionaries” in the strangest places.

The strange place I never imagined my son would be… is Hollywood. After completing the Act One Executive Program for Christians and graduating with a business degree (double major in finance and entrepreneurship) from a Catholic university, he headed west to get a job in the business side of creating movies.

The Catholic Church has always been a patron of the arts, commissioning the creation of paintings, cathedrals and music. Movies are a newer art form, but have equal opportunity to inspire, persuade and enrich the lives of those around them. They also have the potential to corrupt, which initially worried me sick.

In any career one selects he has choices to embrace good or evil.  One can be a decent human being in any respectable job.  Or one can be a despicable one. One can live his faith strongly and quietly and be an example to others around him or he can succumb to the pressures and temptations.

It is imperative that good influences be in all art forms. Movies, like any other product, are not created in a vacuum. If there is no positive influence in the industry, a negative one will fill the void.  Skill, excellence and quality count in every business.  When skill and excellence can be paired with the quality of truth, beauty and goodness of an authentic faith, amazing things can happen.

If no good people enter politics, what hope do we have for our nation? If no moral men and women choose finance or banking, what hope do we have for the business world? If Christians reject careers in the movie industry only because of potential pitfalls how can we expect inspirational, quality films ever to be made?

Jesus said his disciples were the “salt of the earth”. Salt is used to season foods. Salt is used to preserve. Just a little salt can improve and change the entire taste of a dish.  Salt is not easily removed from a food once added. Salt is most needed where it least is.  Hmmm.

When our son moved to Hollywood to pursue his career, I had moments of despair and distress. I was sure that the culture there would change him. But then I heard how one older woman “in the business” noted his work ethic and weekly Mass attendance. She called him “amazing” and said she was impressed because she had ‘never met a young man his age that is pro-life.”  “Never?” I thought at the time… “Really? Wow.” Slowly, I witnessed my son making friendships with like-minded people, and networking with the same.  He started to mentor a popular young actor – in fact, he works with many young actors daily as clients – who knows what influence that will have on others who follow the actors as role models?  We’ll have to wait and see.  Little ripples could become big ones.  I hope.

I called my son just a few minutes ago, as I often do on the weekend.  He texted me that he was walking into Mass and that he would have to call back. I am at peace.

Don’t be afraid to go somewhere or do something where you will be in the minority and your faith might be challenged “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) and God is Perfect Love.

If you frequent the sacraments and cling to your Faith, you and your children can be salt of the earth. You can be channels of grace anywhere and everywhere you go—in the factory or office, in the air force or police force, as a sales clerk or a law clerk, on Main Street or Wall Street, and yes, even in Hollywood.


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