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A Conversion story: Shia beauty of faith

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Actor Shia LaBeouf discusses his conversion to the Catholic faith with Bishop Robert Barron. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

54 years after his death, Padre Pio works another wonder in Hollywood actor’s life

Hollywood Actor Shia LaBeouf has opened up about his conversion to Catholicism and the providential turn of events that led him towards God.

Speaking to Bishop Robert Barron on his YouTube series, ‘Bishop Barron Presents’, LaBeouf revealed how in taking on the role of St Padre Pio for an upcoming film about the saint, he found faith through the formation and friendships made at San Lorenzo Seminary in California.

“I started falling into this group and we’re hanging out and they’re drawing me into the Catholic thing … drawing me into the Gospel,” said the 36-year-old actor.

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“It’s not even like they’re trying, they’re drawing me into their laughter … they’re sharing jokes with me and we’re just hanging out.

“I [started] doing liturgy of the hours with them … I’m feeling more reprieve, feeling safety, which is really what I’m chasing.

“I didn’t want to be alive anymore when all of this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe.”

“And I start feeling this fraternity start to build around me.” LaBeouf credits his time with the Capuchins, reading scripture as a community and spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as important inroads to Catholic faith.

Amidst allegations of abuse by ex-girlfriend, Singer FKA Twigs, the Transformers actor admitted he was in a dark place when preparations for the film began. “I had a gun on the table. I was outta here,” LaBeouf said.

“I didn’t want to be alive anymore when all of this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe.”

Despite the despair, LaBeouf’s continued formation with the friars and his growing love for the Mass helped him see the meaning of suffering in a new light.

“The suffering is actually a gift,” said the actor. “Old me, when I walked in, was so upset, so resentful of the woman who accused me of all this. I wanted to go on Twitter and write all these things, and I wanted to justify this, and explain all this. And now, I actually see, like, the woman saved my life.

“She is, for me, a saint in my life. She saved my life.”

The spiritual experience, which LaBeouf calls ‘miraculous’, also led to his reconnection with his mother who cut ties with the actor when news of the alleged abuse spread. LaBeouf touched on a number of different factors that all contributed to his conversion of heart in the hour and a half long interview.

Bishop Robert Barron. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

A significant portion of his witness was given to his found love for the Mass and how that experience enriched his growing faith.

“When Mass is done really really well, you feel like something like a secret is being shared with you,” he said.

The Latin Mass played a key role as well.

“Latin Mass [affected] me deeply because it feels like … it’s not being done to sell me on anything and it feels almost like I’m being let in on something very special.

“It takes me out of the realm of the intellectual and it puts me squarely in the realm of the feeling.”

From his deep connection with St Padre Pio to his acceptance as a sinner by the Capuchin community when the rest of the world had all but condemned him, LaBeouf reflected on how God, from the beginning, was using the actor’s ego and brokenness to draw him closer.

With everything that occurred, the experience “[felt] way too coincidental to be a coincidence,” he said.

The film biopic Padre Pio, directed by Abel Ferrara and also starring Willem Dafoe, is set to be released later this year.

Related:

Why I Became Catholic: Emma North

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