Book Review: Saint by Lino Rulli

T36668-cvr-5Have you ever thought about what you could be canonized for?

I think most of us are more preoccupied with what we could be condemned for.

Sainthood seems like something pretty distant.

Part of the problem is saints are often portrayed as somehow being perfect almost from birth. The other part is that almost all the saints are priests, nuns, and (lately) popes.

For those of us who worry more about paying the bills than getting closer to God and think silent contemplation is a 10 minute nap in the afternoon while the kids are sleeping, it can be hard to identify with the saints.

Lino Rulli has that same problem.

“When average Catholics look in the mirror, they don’t see a priest, nun, or pope. They don’t see a hallowed vision of a future saint. Instead they see a fluorescent-lit reflection of a layperson, a current sinner with all sorts of ugly struggles and failures.”

Is the Church perhaps inadvertently sending the message that regular lay Catholics can’t be saints? “If that’s the case, the consequences are huge,” says Rulli, “Regular laypeople—that is, the majority of people actually in the Catholic Church—don’t really believe we’re called to be saints.”

But called we are. Which is why, in his new book Saint, Lino Rulli is humorously putting forward his own cause for canonization. Not only in spite of his shortcomings (which he details in brutal honesty), but because of them, so he can be a saint the average Joe can identify with.

“I hope this book encourages you to focus on your own spiritual growth. To realize that you might not be as big a sinner as you think, and that, with God’s help, you might just become a saint.”

Saint is a tongue-in-cheek look at Catholic spirituality through the lens of Lino Rulli’s life—a less-than-perfect but sincerely striving “saint in the making.” Rulli has a way of illuminating the struggles we all experience with faith.

There’s a tension in all of us, we’re torn between a desire for the world and a longing for the divine. Our heroic aspirations to chastity bump up against real life sexual temptations. Trust in God is undermined by insecurities. Charity gives way to jealousy. Humility gets trampled because attention and fame are more fun.

Rulli hits all these big vices and then swings around to practical solutions. I’ve always been a huge fan of using personal stories in catechesis to make your spiritual point. But I’m even more convinced of it after reading this book.

Stories form connections and removes barriers. Transparency about your life builds trust. I don’t know if I could be as forthcoming as he is, but it really works. I found myself identifying with a lot of his struggles so, naturally, when he offered a solution I tried to figure out if it applied to me.

With stories that will make you chuckle out loud more than once, Lino Rulli does a great job teaching about the universal call to holiness. He knows his canonization is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, he’s called to be a saint. So are we all.

I think he’s right. Even though sainthood is our calling, very few of us actually believe it could happen.

Perhaps, through this effort to document his own cause for canonization, Lino will further my own. I don’t think he’ll mind…as long as he makes it to sainthood first.

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Comments

  1. Josh Canning says:

    Thanks Marc! I was curious about this book and I’m going to pick it up now. It’s very interesting, the point about the power of a personal story. I’ll be thinking of that when opportunities to share aspects of the faith arise.

    • Hi Josh! It’s a funny book. I think you’ll like it. Yeah, personal stories are definitely the deal. I’ve been reading a lot about Cardinal Newman and how he used the power of personal witness. It’s very cool. I’ll be writing a post about it soon.

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