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Archbishop Murray Chatlain speaks to us from La Loche, SK

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Together with all Canadians, we grieve with the people of La Loche, Saskatchewan after last Friday’s tragedy that left four people dead and seven injured. Police have charged a 17-year-old young man with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder in the January 23rd home and school mass shooting. What most people don’t know is that La Loche is primarily a Catholic community. Yesterday, Deacon Pedro of the radio program, The Salt and Light Hour had the chance to speak with Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas.

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Photo credit: (CNS photo/handout via Reuters)

Designer Savior

Undercover_Missionary

My friend Cesar who works at a very reputable modeling agency got a rather zany call earlier this year. A couple had selected from their portfolio a number of male and female models from which they would like to obtain sperm and eggs. They were willing to pay large sums of money for this perfect genetic material so they could create a designer baby… really. Yes folks, this happened in real life. We here in Hollywood are forging brave new frontiers for mankind where buying supermodel eggs will be as normal as shampoo from a drug store.

Being the faithful Catholic man that my friend was, it got him thinking – who was this couple, and what would motivate such a ridiculous request? Why, to those of us more “normal”, does this strike such an unnerving chord?

By first contacting a modeling agency they were placing a disproportionate importance on the physical characteristics of their baby. To them a baby was simply a collection of external characteristics – tall or short, fat or skinny, sexually attractive or not. I could perhaps forgive them more if they had called up Cambridge looking for eggs from Nobel laureates, or even a convent, looking for the eggs of the holiest women they had. But all they considered was the looks of the child. Their choices reflected nothing of what St. John Paul II dubbed as the “interiority” of a person – what makes up a person that is externally invisible.

But the problems with a designer baby go much deeper than that.

This Christmas season, we are called to meditate upon the conception of a very different baby – the only one that could ever fulfill the deepest longings of this couple – our savior, the Christ Child. Meditating upon this divine mystery reveals some of the flaws in this couple’s thinking.

The idea of God becoming man brings prompts endless questions: When did Jesus know he was God’s son? Did he just “goo” and “gah” like a baby, even though he perfectly knew what was going on? Or was He given the mind of a baby unable to comprehend our words? When did he know he would have to suffer and die on the cross? Could he really read minds? How is even possible that an infinite being took on human form?

Try to answer any of these and you’ll soon realize how hard it is to answer questions about a regular, non-divine person. How does my intellect work? What does it mean to give birth to a child, to hold a helpless little being in your arms, and have their whole life depend on you? What does it mean to be made in God’s image? People committed to studying a single human being their whole lives (like your spouse) will tell you that they are always learning new things! The depth of a human being is truly incomprehensible.

If we can’t even begin to answer basic questions about man, then how can we be so sure that we are doing something good when we “mess with the formula” and move the sexual act from an intimate exchange between persons and into a test-tube?

The Catholic Church has the humility to see that human conception is something very much beyond us, something transcendent, and that we don’t have the right to change something like that. The world thinks otherwise – that we instead have become god. The inventor of in-vitro fertilization, Robert Edwards, said “I wanted to find out exactly who was in charge, whether it was God himself or whether it was scientists in the laboratory…It was us.”

The good news is that the agency didn’t even begin to consider this request – they saw the intrinsic wrongness of it immediately. Praise God! Yet, it’s probably a sign of things on the horizon in our culture.

Go deep this Christmas season – ask God what it really means to be human, and what it really means that he incarnated himself in our world. It will help you to be ready to give word, explanation and witness to a world gone astray.


markmatthews

Mark J. Matthews – our Hollywood Undercover Missionary @HUMissionary
Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood.  Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on  the SLHour.

What’s Good in Hollywood: Bibles-N-Brew

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We all know of the rising popularity of “micro-breweries”, but have you heard of  “micro-ministries”? I’ve been brewing faith out of my living room with a “micro-ministry” for the past seven years. It’s a little flavor I started called Bibles-N-Brew.

Bibles-N-Brew is a group of Christian men that meet in my living room every other week. Before moving to Hollywood, I worked a year with Catholic Christian Outreach, which specializes in university evangelization. This immensely valuable experience taught me how to build up a group and present the gospel in a clear relatable way. Arriving here, I met many Catholics who never had the blessing of this clear catechesis, so it seemed natural to start a something similar here. It needed a catchy name, and what better way to discuss God than over a beer? Thus “Bibles-N-Brew” was born!

We meet every other Monday night from 7:15 to 9:15pm at my home. We start with a short prayer asking God to send his Holy Spirit upon us and enlighten our minds. Most of our time is spent reading through a book chapter together (nobody ever has the time to read beforehand), pausing for discussion when something strikes us as interesting.

The choice of topic covered and quality of book is very important. We cover the basics of the faith: Why do you need a savior?  What is a personal relationship with Christ? What are the sacraments? Encyclicals are great for those already committed to the faith, but aren’t very accessible to those not versed in church language. I recommend some simpler material to get started with:

“Be a Man” Fr. Larry Richards

“Discovery Bible Study” from Catholic Christian Outreach

God has also shown me how important it is to discuss “masculine” topics – blacksmithing, bull-riding and motor oil, right?… No, try chastity, pornography, leadership and fatherhood. We’re living through a crisis of chastity unlike the world has ever seen. The antidote to this is for men to talk candidly about their struggles and lean on each other for support. Some fantastic resources to get discussion going it these areas are:

“The Courage to be Chaste” Fr. Benedict Groeschel

“Sexaholics Anonymous”

We’re not just an intellectual study group. We share our weaknesses with one another. It’s important to set the tone, and often this means being the first to share your struggles. We have a seal of confidentiality that what’s shared in the group must stay there. You’ll be surprised at how relieved men look once the ice is broken on difficult subjects.  Through our group I’m proud to say that many men have attained a much greater degree of chastity in their lives.

It’s the leaders job to keep a balance between the material and discussion, to keep discussion on track, and to get all the men involved. Be committed to your men! Desire their well-being, pray for them and love them! You may not have the grace for this initially, but pray for it. This may perhaps your greatest opportunity to change the world.

Thirty minutes before we end we pray together. Someone starts in an opening prayer, and in no particular order we speak aloud our intentions. When everyone’s had a chance to go, the prayer leader will close in an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Guarantee that you’re done by 9:15pm every night. This is more important than you think. People are busy, and when they see their time is respected, they’re more likely to come back.

Finally of course, we drink beer (in moderation!) while we discuss. Have some snacks too if you can – men are suckers for good food! The rest of the evening is spent socializing and fellowshipping, when we really talk about bull riding and motor oil.

There’s so much more I could say about doing this successfully, such as personal invitations, being well prepared, believing in the material and being organized. But the most important of all is prayer! I spend a lot of time praying for my group, for my men specifically, for what material to study, and that God would bring the right men out. I have a list of “prayer warriors” too, to whom I send a separate e-mail asking for prayers. I like to let them know how the group is going and what they can be praying for. Never underestimate the power of prayer!

On any given night, we’ll have between 5-10 men, out of a core group of around 30. Many members of my group are aspiring actors, writers, directors and musicians. Of course I hope they’ll influence the world for the better, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because we’re called to love each person right where they’re at, simply because God sees them as an irreplaceable gift. Share your love of God and help each other to grow in virtue. Small in the eyes of the world is not small in God’s eyes!

It’s that simple. Anyone can have a “micro ministry” in his living room.

Your group will be different. You know different men, in a different city, with a different culture, and different needs. You’ll need to tailor your group to accommodate those needs. Start by praying. See what God says to you and to whom he leads you. This is going to be His group that He wants to start, and you’re just the tool. However, He needs you to be the Leader of this group and to make it happen – so do it!


markmatthews

Mark J. Matthews – our Hollywood Undercover Missionary @HUMissionary
Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood.  Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on  the SLHour.

True Masculinity

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In many of my personal encounters in Hollywood, I meet men looking for validation – seeking to satisfy a voice that asks, “Are you a true man?” But looking to answer that question in the entertainment industry is probably not the best place. That explains much of the craziness here. But for a Catholic man seeking to answer that question, where should he be looking?

Theologically speaking, God the Father is the essence of masculinity – you can’t get any more masculine than God the Father, and Jesus Christ is the external manifestation of that masculinity. As the leader of a Christian men’s group for the last 7 years, I’ve learned that theological definitions don’t always cut it. We need concrete examples. An excellent source of leadership on “True Masculinity” comes from Dr. Philip Mango, a highly respected Catholic psychologist who has worked with Mother Teresa among many other accolades.

The first thing Mango points out is that men are psychologically different than women.

GASP!

Nobody would doubt our biological differences, but psychological differences? The idea is so anathema these days that you can’t even say it out loud. Yet, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that both our neurology and psychologies are very different. We’re physical creatures, and physical differences are bound to influence our minds. We see sexual behavior differences in every other creature on earth, so why not humans too?

It’s only the agenda of radical feminism that seeks to ignore these differences. Pope John Paul II says God created us masculine and feminine on purpose – and there is meaning to that! We shouldn’t ignore it. Understanding our differences helps us understand whom God made us to be, and ultimately our purpose.

There are many ways to examine our psychological differences, but a good starting point is from Analytical Psychology, which has discovered the four masculine archetypes – trans-cultural themes consistently found in stories, myths, art and music throughout the world.  Essentially, what God has already written into our hearts.

The first archetype is that of the warrior. Which man hasn’t watched Braveheart longingly, wishing he could paint his face blue and chop up bad guys too? All men want to fight a battle and sacrifice ourselves for the cause righteousness. This might not be a physical battle every day, but I can guarantee that we all battle sin everyday. No wonder St. Paul uses the imagery of a soldier putting on armor (Eph 6:10-17). God put the “fight” into men to say no to sin, and yes to Christ; to protect and defend the good of others.

An excellent example of men doing this in a very concrete way are some friends here that actively protest and pray in front of AdultCon (a pornography trade show) every year. A true man takes the battle to the enemy, and what a great way to do so!

The second archetype is that of king. A king bestows order and blessing upon those around him. He leads, guides, encourages, makes tough decisions, and puts himself last and those under him first. A king is a servant leader who asks “What does this place need?” and just does it. He doesn’t need permission or an invitation.

Bestowing of blessing is so important that it’s one of the few times we hear the actual voice of God the Father “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7). Most men have not heard this from their earthly fathers. This need is so deep that those who don’t hear it will instinctively seek it out the rest of their lives. Thankfully we can receive this from God the Father directly through prayer, and speak it into the lives each other.

Two perversions kingship are rampant: authoritarianism, placing ourselves above all, sadistically taking pleasure in ruling others; or, complete passivity, seeking to just “fit in”, not wanting to rock the boat, ultimately hiding. As men we need rule selflessly for others, and not fall into these two traps.

Men are lovers.  No surprise there. But how do we use our sexuality for the good of others? Again, two perversions are common: either we give into sex entirely, becoming addicted to masturbation and pornography; or we completely repress it – not even acknowledging that we are a sexual being. Both are lies and neither man truly possesses his sexuality.

Only when we truly own our sexuality can we make it a gift. We can use it as a gift to strengthen others, instead of taking from them. A true man uses his tenderness and his friendship to see the women around them as sisters and affirm them. It’s OK to give the women we love a hug! It’s OK to tell them that they look beautiful! (In a truly brotherly disinterested way). Women are incredibly sensitive and this means a great deal to them.

Finally, men are called to be wise counselors. When men have spent a lifetime developing wisdom, character and love, they need to share this with those around them. With so many fathers missing from single parent homes, we desperately need strong masculine guidance. These wise older men can be the fathers many of these younger men are missing.

These four archetypes weren’t created by anyone – they were written into our hearts by God. Identifying and understanding them helps us to understand who we were made to be, and how they fit into our Christian faith.

How can we grow in these areas? One of the most important things men can do is to gather and start talking about them. Truly talking from the gut and being vulnerable about how we are failing. This is what we do in my men’s group, and anyone can do among their group of fellowship. From there we can challenge each other to be better men, and to start living who as were created to be.


markmatthews

Mark J. Matthews – our Hollywood Undercover Missionary @HUMissionary
Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood.  Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on  the SLHour.

The Salt + Light Radio Hour Christmas Special – “Made-For-TV”

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Since 2009, Salt + Light has been on the radio airwaves with our weekly program, The Salt + Light Radio Hour. Every week, our host, Deacon Pedro brings you the best of S+L: inspiring messages, insightful interviews, interesting commentary and  news updates and events from around the Catholic world; plus every week we feature a Catholic singer/songwriter, as well as an author or look at a particular in-depth topic.

Every week we also feature a different segment with our contributors: Andrew Santos has a saint of the week; Gillian Kantor has parenting tips; our Hollywood Undercover Missionary, Mark Matthews tells us what’s good in Hollywood; Danny Torchia gives us public relations and marketing tips and Sr. Marie Paul Curley offers film reviews.  The SLHour airs on various radio networks across the United States and is also available for streaming online or download off our website. You can listen to all SLHour programs by going to our archive.

Every year we produce a special Christmas edition of the SLHour with all our contributors. This year we produced our Christmas special for TV with our contributors giving their segments a little Christmas twist: Andrew has a Christmas saint; Gillian learns a Christmas lesson from her kids; Danny looks back at the work done this year; Hollywood teaches Mark something about Christmas and Sr. Marie Paul finds the Windows to the Soul to five films about saying yes; plus we listen to music from Fr. Rob Galea, Seraphim and Marie Miller.

You can listen to or download the SLHour Christmas Special or you can watch it on Salt + Light TV:
Saturday, December 20th at 10pm ET / 7pm PT
Sunday, December 21st at 2pm ET / 11am PT
Tuesday, December 23rd at 9:30am / 6:30am PT
For more broadcast times see our schedule.

Or, if you prefer, you can watch this Christmas special right here!

Email us your comments

Next week, December 27, 2014 on the SLHour, we close the year by taking a look at all the new albums released by Catholic artists in 2014 and featured on the SLHour – tune in for some of the best songs of 2014, featuring , Sarah Kroger, Joe Zambon, Amanda Vernon, Curtis Stephan, Joe Melendrez, Tori Harris, Fr. Rob Galea, Luke Spehar, Rebecca Roubion and the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles.

Listen to this program by going to our S+L Radio webpage.

The Catholic Guy Show Features Fr. Rosica from S+L Studio

LINO RULLI , HOST OF 'THE CATHOLIC GUY,' PICTURED IN STUDIO AT VATICAN RADIO

The Catholic Guy Show with Lino Rulli went on the road this past week and stopped by the S+L studio for  three days of live broadcasting. S+L CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica joined Lino on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 for a fun afternoon full of stories on Popes, past and present, and much more. Listen to clips of Fr. Rosica on The Catholic Guy Show below:

The Catholic Guy Show airs on The Catholic Channel SiriusXM Radio Monday through Friday from 5-7 pm.

It’s Not About Glory

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by Mark J. Matthews, SLHour‘s Hollywood Undercover Missionary

I was recently reflecting on the Passion narrative when a line jumped out at me. As Peter is about to strike the high priest’s servant with a sword, Christ reprimands him and says:

Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

I thought to myself, “Wow, can you imagine what Christ’s twelve legions of angels would look like?” For a visual FX creator like me, my mind went wild with images similar to the Avengers, or Lord of the Rings. “That would be AWESOME!” I thought.

But wait, Christ goes on to say “that’s not how I do things”. And He often repeats this theme “Your Father who sees in secret…”, “Do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing…”

That’s a little depressing. Here I am in living and working in Hollywood, pretty much the center of glory – world-class movie production, beautiful women and home of most of celebrities anywhere – should I even be out here? I mean isn’t that the only point of Hollywood – glory?

[Read more…]

Caritas Panama joins end hunger campaign with song

The people of Caritas Panama have taken up the END HUNGER campaign to another level with this beautiful and moving song, LEVANTO MI VOZ POR QUIEN NO TIENE PAN (I raise my voice for those who have no bread).

The international campaign hinges on a very simple premise: There is enough food in the world and it should be shared with all. But do we believe this?

Caritas believes that it is a scandal that nearly a billion people are hungry today in a world that has the resources to feed everyone. The more than 160 national organisations that make up Caritas Internationalis are joining together in their first ever global campaign to call for an end to hunger by 2025. 

Pope Francis kicked off the Caritas Campaign with a video message by saying that food is not just a basic need but it is also a right. But it is a right which is trampled on every day for the 842 million children, women and men who are hungry in the world.  He said, “We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion – one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist. The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone.”

 And the people of Caritas Panama believe that a great way to rally people to support a campaign is through music. The song, was written, produced and performed by a collaboration of Panamanian Catholic artists and professionals.

How will you support this campaign to end world hunger by 2025?


LEVANTO MI VOZ POR QUIEN NO TIENE PAN

Written and composed by Maríaestelí Rios
Production: Carlos Samaniego and En La Roca
Performed by various Panamanian Catholic singers/artists: Angélica Quintero (Ecos del Silencio), Evaristo Gonzalez (Ministerio de Música Ágape / ExVive la Música TVN), Annita Castillo (San Juan Apóstol Parish, Brisas del Golf), Niudska Beitía (Ministerio de Musica Nabí), Oliver Portillo ( Distynto) and Maríaestelí Ríos (En La Roca)

Learn more about Caritas Panama on their website or follow them on Twitter.

We have radio!

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Ten years ago when I first started doing media presentations in schools, I’d ask the students, “what is media?” and they would talk about TV and films. Sometimes a student would mention news media or even video games. Today when I do the same presentation, all students can think about is social media. Times have changed.

According to the Oxford dictionary, the term “media” is the plural of “medium”. The definition of medium is “an agency or means of doing something.” Literally, “medium” is a conduit – think of your science class when you learned about heat conductors. In Catholic theology we speak about sacraments as “media” in the sense that they mediate something else.

But the term “media” is not used to mean water or sacraments; it is used, specifically to mean communication media, or rather mass media of communication. So, anything that is used to communicate something to the masses is “media”.

And the Church has been using media to communicate the Good News as early as St. Paul. In fact, the Church was the champion of media as it used art, music, theatre and then print to spread the Good News.

But a book can only reach a few thousand people. A newspaper, perhaps could reach tens of thousands. It was not until the advent of Radio, at the beginning of the 20th century, that we could begin speaking about mass media. All of the sudden it was possible to reach millions with just one broadcast. And from that moment, the Church has been using radio to spread the Good News. In fact, it was in 1931 that radio-inventor himself, Guglielmo Marconi, who set up Vatican Radio under Pope Pius XI. The rest, as they say, is a fascinating history.

I think it’s fair to say that even today, with all the technological advances and the Internet (despite the fact that for students it’s all about social media), radio is still the most popular media. Radio is a very inexpensive medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities. It is also a great medium to freely reach some of the most vulnerable populations: The illiterate, the disabled, shut-ins and the poor. I remember while growing up in Panama, going out in the interior of the country and even in the most remote locations, everyone had a radio. Radio allowed them to know what was going on in the rest of the country. And who doesn’t listen to the radio in their car? Radio allows everyone, regardless of their education level to participate in public discourse. Radio also has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief (especially in remote communities), and radio is extremely intimate: When you listen to the radio it’s as if it’s just for you. Radio allows everyone to be on the same playing field. It is a great medium of equality. However, despite the fact that they say radio reaches about 95 per cent of the world’s population, according to UNESCO, up to a billion people in the world, still do not have access to radio today.

This is why in on November 3, 2011, UNESCO approved the creation of the World Day of Radio. The day is celebrated every year on February 13th and aims to raise awareness about the importance of radio. The day also helps to facilitate access to information through radio and enhance networking among broadcasters.

This is why, Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation, recognizing the importance of radio and the need for Catholic radio in Canada, in 2009 partnered with the Archdiocese of New York’s The Catholic Channel (Sirius XM 129) to produce the Salt + Light Hour, a weekly radio program. The SLHour started from a small idea and with limited resources. It has become a leading Canadian Catholic audio program and podcast that offers quality music and interviews with artists and authors. Over the last four years the SLHour has featured most English-speaking Catholic artists. Among them, Fathers David Delargy and Martin O’Hagan of The Priests, John Michael Talbot, Matt Maher, Sarah Hart, Steve Angrisano, Jesse Manibusan, Critical Mass, Susan Hookong-Taylor, Audrey Assad, Sarah Kroger, L’Angelus, Janelle,  Fr. Rob Galea, Chris Bray and many, many others. Some notable authors that have been on the program are Ralph Martin, Peter Kreeft, Fr. Scott Hurd, Lino Rulli, Elizabeth Scalia, Shawn Carney and Mother Dolores Hart, to name a few.

The program continues every week. As producer and host, I hope to bring you the best of Salt + Light: Inspiring messages, insightful interviews, interesting commentary and music; plus news updates with Alicia Ambrosio, Saint of the Week with Andrew Santos and diocesan updates from Canada and abroad, as well as great segments from our contributors. As I write this, the SLHour is not only carried on The Catholic Channel, but also on the Spirit Catholic Radio Network, which owns five FM Stations in Nebraska and parts of Iowa and South Dakota, and on WJTA 88.9 FM Holy Family Radio in north-eastern Ohio. For those of you outside of those broadcasting areas or without Sirius XM, you can stream the program or download it at our website: www.saltandligttv.org/radio or as a free podcast off iTunes.

And if any of you are managing English-language Catholic Radio stations, let us know if you’d like to carry the SLHour. Stay current with the Catholic Church in Canada and the world, and nourish your faith with the SLHour.

Happy World Day of Radio and visit us on Facebook.

Have Yourself a Goth Christmas

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By Mark Matthews, our Salt + Light Hour Hollywood Undercover Missionary

My co-workers and I got this crazy idea into our heads recently that we needed to visit a Goth Bar. If you don’t know what “Goth” is, it’s a whole movement of look/style/culture similar to punk, except that Goths are known for wearing all black, being really depressed and listening to The Cure all the time. Why did we need to go? Don’t you think it’d be a fascinating cultural experience? And, of course leave it to Los Angeles to have a club for every manner of style and dress on the planet.

However, neither my co-workers nor myself live the Goth culture. We’re pretty much clean-cut middle class geeks. So we’d certainly stand out in their midst and weren’t sure that we’d be welcomed with open arms. Regardless, we dug out our darkest items of clothing and found a club advertising a safe sounding “Goth Karaoke Night” and visited one December Monday night for some Friday I’m in Love sing-along fun.

Despite our juvenile fears we didn’t get turned away at the door. They didn’t bat an eye and simply handed us karaoke songbooks instead. The look of the club and clientele certainly lived up to our expectations, with plenty of black, spiked hair and dark eye-shadow. I channeled my inner teenage angst and picked “Sad But True” by Metallica. I think we all were expecting the night to be nothing but droning and tears into the microphone, but imagine my surprise when the first songs of the evening were CHRISTMAS CAROLS!

It was a reminder to me of just how ingrained Christmas customs and traditions are. In that club, nothing seemed further away than the thought of Christmas. Yet the patrons wanted to brighten it up a bit with some songs inspired by the incarnation of God-made-flesh. That probably wasn’t their exact motivating thought, but it’s significant no less. We often forget that the reason we do things like put up an evergreen tree is that it signifies the ever-lasting life we have in Christ. This openness to signs and symbols is an open door to share our faith with a culture normally deaf to theological truth.

Signs and symbols, “sacramentality”, are an ingenious invention of Christ, faithfully used by the Catholic Church. I’d go so far as to say that humans can’t live without some kind of sacramental reality. Sacraments are also a form in incarnation, as they make something a physical reality. There is so very much that can be said about incarnation, but suffice it to say that the greatest Incarnation was God made flesh in Jesus Christ, and we are called to incarnate in smaller ways too.

What exactly is the Hollywood connection here? Artists are incarnators, and Hollywood is full of artists. The primary job of an artist is to create concrete forms, images, objects, sights and sounds to communicate an idea or feeling. Because of this they are particularly sensitive to the incarnate works around them.

Something that has struck me since I moved to Hollywood is just how classy and beautifully-done Christmas is. All the décor is very well done in Hollywood – not gaudy or showy, but classical, simple and beautiful. Even the Scientologists get in on it and put together some very nice displays.

I’ve heard some fascinating conversion stories of people whose primary mode of conversion involved art. One walked into a beautiful renaissance church, was touched by it’s beauty, and ultimately became Catholic because of it. Wow, a conversion through incarnated beauty? I previously never thought it possible! For this reason, those who seek to evangelize artists should incarnate the faith around them.

My advice is to incarnate Christmas by putting up some beautiful decorations. Specifically, try to pick things reflective of our faith, like the crèche, a star, or wise-men. Maybe this will lead to some good conversations with your neighbors, and at the very least it lets people know subconsciously there is something more to Christmas. The benefit of this is ultimately two fold. These signs and symbols help us see the un-seeable spiritual reality. They remind us that our salvation is leading us to a much better place that “… no mind can comprehend”. Secondly, it will help others see this reality and truth too. We want to encourage this attraction to signs and symbols of our Lords birth – even in a Goth bar.

Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood. Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on the SLHour. And listen to this year’s special Christmas-edition of the SLHour too!