Their faces are on your magazines, their songs are on your iPod, and their ideologies are on your mind – whether you’ve invited them or not. While some celebrities briefly engage our thoughts, others attract our devout affection and, sadly, I’ve come to recognize the most engaging pop culture icons are those who have been the most destructive to our faith, values and morality.
Lady Gaga, a strong defensive voice for the “Born This Way” gay community, has captivated young people, gay and straight alike, who long for the ‘tolerant’ culture of immorality she sells them. She visions herself a “Mother Monster” who has birthed “the new race” of people she believes shouldn’t depend on the guidance of a true father, like the Pope.
Once a pre-teen Disney star, Miley Cyrus has shown millions of little girls exactly how to transition from childhood innocence to teenaged rebellion. With conflicting tattoos of a Christian cross, the word “karma,” and Hinduism’s “om” symbol and “evil eye,” she’s perpetuates the confused and empty, relativistic theology so popular among young people. Receiving criticism from Christian fans in response to an equal sign tattoo she got in support of gay marriage, she said, “Well, if you were a true Christian, you would have your facts straight. Christianity is about love.”
Stars have made a mockery of our holy faith, turning blasphemy into a new form of entertainment. From Lady Gaga (a baptized Catholic) swallowing a rosary in a sexualized nun costume and dancing with a bedazzled, topless Jesus in an Apostolic biker gang, singing about her love for Judas, to Nicki Minaj (a self-proclaimed Christian) performing an exorcism as her gay-male “alter-ego,” among dancing monks and altar boys “praying” at the crotches of leather-clad female dancers. Even Katy Perry, no model of Christianity herself said, “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.”
The tragedy is that impressionable minds, including adults, are very much under the influence of such stars. Nicki proved her role-model status when little girls became internet superstars singing along to her lyrics about men making her “panties come off.” Miley, whose childhood Hannah Montana fanbase has certainly not dissipated, doesn’t seem to care how she impresses anyone, as she’s been bearing it all lately, seemingly desperate to be reminded of her true feminine dignity. And Lady Gaga has fully embraced her role as a pseudo-parent to her fans, joyfully dragging them away from having a Christ-centered grip on real life.
There is no doubt we suffer in a secular drought, lacking inspiring role models for young women who are being spoon-fed garbage for the soul.
So, in light of celebrating the wonderful occasion of All Saints Day this week, I would like to share the quite opposite stories of 3 amazing female saints – timeless role models who are most truly deserving of spotlight stardom.
1. Saint Agnes, 291-304 AD
St. Agnes was a Roman girl raised in a Christian family who made a promise to remain pure for God. Although her beauty attracted many men, Agnes would tell them all, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.” Her governor, Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, but she refused, telling him, “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe.” The governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but still she refused so he condemned her to death at age 13. As Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, Sempronius had Agnes dragged naked through the streets to a brothel, but an Angel of the Lord protected her. Some say that her hair grew and covered her body; others, that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind. When led out to die she was tied to a stake to be burned but the flames did not touch her, so an officer drew his sword and beheaded her. She willingly and joyfully accepted death for her faith, for if she were to deny it, she said, “I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” St. Agnes demonstrates how we should bravely protect our precious purity for the sake of God.
2. Saint Maria Goretti, 1890-1902
Born to a poor Italian family, St. Maria Teresa Goretti worked to support her siblings and parents from a young age. While her mother and siblings worked in the fields, Maria stayed at home to watch her infant sister, cook, sew and clean. One day, her teenaged neighbor broke in and attempted to rape her. She screamed at him, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” He tried choking her, but she assured him she would rather die than submit, so he stabbed her more than 10 times in the throat and chest. She was taken to the hospital, where she remained conscious and wished forgiveness for her attacker, until she died the following day. Her story does not end in death, however. Her attacker spent thirty years in prison and was unrepentant until he had a dream in which Maria Goretti appeared and gave him a bouquet of flowers. When he was released, he went directly to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness. St. Maria Goretti models a beautiful example of how to boldly denounce sin but to also offer merciful, loving forgiveness.
3. Saint Sophia, died 137 AD
St. Sophia was a widowed mother of three daughters whom she named Faith, Hope and Love. She was a devout Christian who lived under the Roman Emperor Hadrian in a time of great persecution. Her family was brought before the magistrate and ordered to renounce Christ. They commanded that Sophia offer incense to a pagan deity or be forced to watch her three young daughters be tortured and killed. She took courage and remained faithful to Christ. She told her daughters, only 12, 10, and 9-years-old, to be brave and endure, saying, “Your heavenly Lover, Jesus Christ is eternal Health, inexpressible Beauty and Life eternal. When your bodies are slain by torture, He will clothe you in incorruption, and the wounds on your bodies will shine in heaven like the stars.” Her young girls courageously suffered through torture and martyrdom, and Sophia died at their graves only days later. St. Sophia is an impeccable example of how we should stand strong in our faith, against a secular society that begs us to turn away from Christ.