Mark Wahlberg explains why it’s important to him not to ‘deny’ his faith

Mark Wahlberg doesn’t hide his relationship with God — not when it comes to speaking up about his Catholic faith nor when it comes to wearing an ash cross on his forehead in observance of the first day of Lent.

“It’s a balance,” the 51-year-old told co-anchor Savannah Guthrie of his practice of discussing religion. “I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith. That’s an even bigger sin. You know, it’s not popular in my industry, but I cannot deny my faith. It’s important for me to share that with people. But, I have friends from all walks of life and all different types of faiths and religions, so it’s important to respect and honor them as well.”

Wahlberg stressed that he maintains that same share-but-don’t-push attitude when it comes to the four children he has with wife Rhea Durham.

“I don’t force it on them,” he said at the time. “But they know that Dad can’t start the day without being in prayer, can’t start the day without reading my Scripture or going to Mass. And hopefully, instead of forcing that on them, they’ll say, ‘Well, if it works for Dad, maybe it’ll work for us,’ and they’ll kind of gravitate towards it on their own.”

“I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith. That’s an even bigger sin.”

As for what works for Wahlberg, who’s a guest narrator and paid spokesperson for the Catholic prayer app Hallow, he went into a deeper explanation of that when he sat down with Savannah and spoke about the Lenten season and the periods of fasting that are part of it.

“There are many different elements to fasting,” Wahlberg explained. “I think the important thing to understand is that, first of all, if you have issues with food, there are other things. God knows the things that he wants you to detach from. We all know those things that make us feel guilty, don’t make us feel as good as we should. So (it’s about) being able to detach from those things and focus on good habits as opposed to bad habits. There are challenges for fasting, like today, I won’t have any meat. I’ll have one meal today, and I’ll do that every Friday throughout Lent and Good Friday.”

Wahlberg will also lead listeners in inspiring lessons on the practice of fasting as part of the Hallow app’s Pray40 Lent Challenge.

He noted that the discipline required to meet the challenges of Lent helps “people to be better versions of themselves.”

At least, that’s what he’s seen for himself.

“Discipline has always been important for me in life,” he continued. “Once I started getting into movies and transitioned from music, I realized I needed a lot of discipline in my life, and that discipline has afforded me so many other things. I’ve been rewarded for it so much, and I want to share that with people, whether that’s with fasting, working out more, detaching from other things and just spending more time with God, in prayer or in thoughtful reflection. Those things are important.”

When asked to sum up his faith, Wahlberg said, “Oh, it’s everything.”

He added, “It’s afforded me so many things. Obviously, you know, God didn’t come to save the saints. He came to save the sinners. We’ve all had things and issues in our lives, and we want to be better versions of ourselves, and through focusing on my faith, it’s allowed me to do that.”