Lino Rulli, host of The Catholic Guy on SiriusXM Radio, wrote a book with an intriguing name - "Sinner." The book is not a showcase for sin but a support system for ordinary Catholics to encourage them in a life of faith in our extraordinary God. Though humorous, Lino is also a man deeply serious about his Catholic faith. The book touches people where they live and encourages them to take their faith seriously.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Lino Rulli believes that if he can live the Christian life there's hope for everyone. The daily host of The Catholic Guy on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Lino wrote a book to encourage people just like him - ordinary people - to keep going.
Raised in the Catholic Church in the heartland of the upper Midwest, his life was anything but saintly. He was, as he says without hesitation, a sinner, but a sinner who was in search of God's grace. With grace working in his life, he knew his faith can grow and, building on small personal victories, his spiritual life would deepen in devotion.
Lino's new book, "Sinner, The Catholic Guy's Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic," is not a biography. Like album of snapshots, he presents snippets of his life that reveal something about a sinner who knows he needs God's grace to grow in his faith. This handful of stories will help the reader get to know Lino Rulli just a little better.
"I probably started with a hundred stories," Lino said in a recent interview. "I think that one of the most important things that I did was say to myself, 'Who do I want to have read this book?'
"I'll get myself in trouble here. so why not start right off the bat. I don't care if some priest or archbishop or cardinal reads it. I wrote it for someone like myself, or more importantly, someone like myself before I started working in Catholic Media, in other words, just a regular person.
"I picked stories where I thought people would say, 'Oh, that's funny! Oh, that's relatable. I get that.'"
Lino writes about his life, as a "single desperately lonely human being."
"I wanted to talk about my insecurities, the things that led me to be the person I am today, in terms of not just faith, but in terms of my absolute desire to be liked. to be needed. to be wanted. The only way you can find out those things about me is to find out about some of those whacky stories about me in the past."
As you meander through his life, you'll read that, as a boy, his father wanted to be an organ grinder. Guess who had to substitute for the monkey?
You'll also learn about his dream to visit to see David Letterman tape his show, adventures in the confessional, temptation in Thailand, living in the Bahamas, working in media and much much more.
Perhaps the most controversial story involved his visit Thailand, where he was encouraged to get a prostitute and learned what it is like to experience victory over temptation.
We talked about the fact that this story puts the spotlight on the darker side of humanity and the temptations many people face.
"Maybe it's not prostitution for somebody," Lino commented, "maybe it's something else. I'm hoping someone who reads this might say, 'I'm not the only person out there who's been tempted in Thailand. or Las Vegas. or wherever. But it's a story about victory over temptation."
Written in a very honest and transparent style, he never gives you a hint at how things will turn out at the end of a chapter. You just hold on and wait for the surprise.
"There are things I didn't understand at the time but make sense now. I think it's important for everybody to look back and say, 'Now, where was God in this?'"
While Lino does a show called "The Catholic Guy," his website is entitled "Lino Rulli - A Man With a Big Nose." When you talk with him, however, you don't think about physical characteristics; however big his nose might be, his joy and enthusiasm for life as a Catholic is much bigger.
I had to confess to him I had to make one major adjustment in my thinking as I began his book. He seems so "New York," when, in fact, he grew up in Minnesota.
He laughed and said, "There's something that comes from being in what people call 'fly-over land.' I'm the regular person , I get it. I'm the guy from the Midwest. I know what it is to grow up in an average middle-income family, to have those values and roots of the Midwest.
"I approach my Catholicism the same way. I could sit here and talk about the inside things going on in the church - what about this cardinal moving, what about this bishop, what about that decision?
"It's important for me to keep those roots about where normal people are from and take an average Catholic look at life without getting swept up in the 'inside baseball' of the Church.
"For me its about I know what I want to do and I know what I should do; now, let's see what happens."
Without trying to give away too much of the book, one chapter that really sticks out deals pants - not the pants themselves but how he would just leave them around the house. By the end of the story, his pants ended up where they were supposed to be - a small victory we talked about.
"The fact that I can come home and put them away properly means I can change. Just like everything in life, you start small then you build up. There are victories in life and, no matter how small they are, we need to look at them and say that I can make a change in my life in the small things. Maybe God can help make the bigger changes."
Lino is a larger than life personality who fills a room the moment he enters. He is honest in his communication, whether in person or on the radio. I asked him about the writing project and how people around him responded when he mentioned he was going to do it.
"A lot of people were afraid I was going to write a crazy book glamorizing sin. I was very conscious this whole time - Am I writing a book that says 'go out, get drunk, have fun, do what you want and then later just go to confession?' No! I concerned for my soul, too, and certainly don't want to mess around with anyone else's."
Always ready to make you laugh, he is also a man deeply serious about his faith. He wants the book to have entertainment value, but, even more, that it really touches people where they live and encourage them to take their faith seriously.
We also talked about whether there would be "Sinner, Part II," coming out and whether he would do more in this medium.
"Yes, I am. I enjoyed the process of writing. especially (being) in radio where it's so fleeting. You go do your three hours and then it goes away, you know; never to be heard from again. I like doing something that can be a little more tangible and a little more concrete.
"I've been really lucky to have a couple of publishers approach me with some ideas. I don't know what I want yet and I certainly don't know what people want. I learning toward doing a second version of sinner.
"I really did pray about this for a very long time - should I write a book? So I did it. Whatever happens next I have to re-start that prayer and re-discern all these things.
"I respect other media forms and I know what it takes to be a good writer - and I don't know if I am or not - but I know what it takes for me to become a halfway decent writer, so I can't crank out another book in two months. It's gonna be awhile and I have to make the decisions.
"I really do enjoy how much people loved the book, so I'm in the business of saying, 'All right, if I can bring some sort of peace and happiness in people's lives and encouragement to Catholicism along the way; yeah, I'd better start writing."
Lino has an ability of bringing unique worlds together. He has friends like Gary Dell'Abate, the executive producer of the Howard Stern Show and others who are deeply involved in the work of the church. He knows that the only way those who walk in the one world to honestly experience the Lord is through real Catholics - honest and open Christians - connecting with them.
"For me, one of the proudest things that happened was that the two endorsements on the back of the book are from the guy in charge of the Howard Stern Show and the guy who is in charge of the bishops in the United States.
"It's important to me that guys like Gary, who I really like - I think he's just an excellent human being - and I know a lot of Catholics who can't stand him because he's associated with the (Howard) Stern Show, and maybe that's what's turning him off to religion. If a guy like Gary and (Archbishop) Dolan get together they would have nothing but fun. If I can be the bridge that brings what other people would think are two completely different worlds together I'm all for it."
"Sinner," by Lino Rulli, is published by Servant Books from St. Anthony Messenger Press.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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