Actor, producer and entrepreneur Mark Wahlberg was seen sporting ashes on his forehead in the shape of a cross as he made a guest appearance on NBC's "Today" show on Ash Wednesday to promote his involvement with a Catholic prayer app.
The 51-year-old, who has been acting for well over two decades, is a guest narrator and paid spokesperson for the Catholic meditation app called Hallow.
Wahlberg shared that he is leading Hallow users through a series of lessons in the app on the practice of fasting during the Lenten season, which began Wednesday and runs through Easter (April 9).
"There are many different elements to fasting. I think the important thing to understand is first of all, if you have issues with food, there are other things. God knows the things that He wants you to detach from," said Wahlberg, who started his acting career in 1993 with his screen debut in the American comedy film "Renaissance Man."
"We all know those things that make us feel guilty and don't make us feel as good as we should. [The goal is] being able to detach from those things and focus on good habits as opposed to bad habits. ... I'm just challenging people to be better versions of themselves."
Wahlberg said for his fast during this Lenten season, he did not eat meat and only consumed one meal on Ash Wednesday. Additionally, he will continue to avoid meat and only consume one meal every Friday up until Good Friday, which will fall on April 7.
"Ultimately, I just think it gives me discipline, [which] has always been important for me in life. Once I started getting into movies and transitioned from music, I realized I needed a lot of discipline in my life," said Wahlberg, who has been in dozens of movies throughout his career and produced the 2022 faith-based film "Father Stu."
"Discipline has afforded me so many other things and 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; and those things are important."
While his own relationship with God has played a huge role in his life, Wahlberg said that he knows Catholicism and Christianity are not always warmly welcomed by everyone, especially in his field of work as an actor.
"It's a balance. I don't want to jam it down anybody's throat. But I'm not denying my faith. That's an even bigger sin. It's not popular in my industry. But you know, I cannot deny my faith," Wahlberg said.
"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. ... It's important to respect and honor them as well."
When it comes to raising his four teenage children, Wahlberg said he makes an effort to tell them about God whenever he can. However, he wants to give his teens the space to make their own decisions about their faith as they navigate adolescence.
"I don't force it on them. Before it was like, 'alright, everybody has to be in Catholic school. We have to go to mass every Sunday.' But, that can also create some resentment. I want them to gravitate towards it in a very natural way," Wahlberg said.
"My parents made us go to church and they didn't even go with us. They just said: 'OK, you guys have to go.' We would walk down. We would get a missal and we would go to the park, or we would go to the train and go somewhere else," Wahlberg continued.
"I want [my children] to understand that dad has to start his day by getting on his hands and his knees. And no matter where I am, the priority on Sunday is to go to church. To be able to do those things, and they just see them, [and one day] hopefully they'll say, 'Well, there's got to be something there.' I will let them do it on their own."
Wahlberg said his faith continues to be everything to him.
"It's everything. ... It's afforded me so many things. ... 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," Wahlberg said.
"Through focusing my faith, it's allowed me to do that. ... We want to bring people together. ... The world affords you a lot of comfortable. We're not made for comfort. We're made for greatness. And if we want to be greatness, we have to be in the fight; to get the rewards."
The Hallow app earned the No. 3 spot on the Apple App Store's "Top Charts" as it surpassed internet titans like Google, Netflix, Spotify, Instagram and TikTok, according to The Daily Wire.