I'll be heading to Italy for the first time in September, but after reading this CNS story about a recent pilgrimage headed up by Lino Rulli, "The Catholic Guy" from Sirius/XM Satellite Radio's Catholic Channel line-up, I'm wondering if I signed up for the wrong trip. Rulli and his gang of 40 listeners hit all the usual pilgrim hot spots but did it in a way that should come as no surprise to those who've heard the antics on any given day on The Catholic Guy show, which airs from 4 to 7 p.m. Eastern each weekday.
From the CNS story:
"Rulli and 40 listeners of his nationally broadcast radio show traveled with Father Rob Keighron of St. Helen Church, Howard Beach, N.Y., to have what Rulli called 'the best and the worst pilgrimage in the world.'Rulli told CNS that one pilgrim said he was going to start attending Mass more regularly because the experience gave him a new perspective on the priesthood.
"It was the best, he said, because from July 10-18 they visited and prayed at holy sites in Rome, Florence, Assisi and Siena. It was the worst because not many people would equate the not-so-spiritual moments of singing Bon Jovi at a karaoke club and imbibing Italian wines and liqueurs as being part of a proper pilgrimage, explained Rulli.
"'I think people like the idea that to be a Catholic, to have a religious experience does not mean to have a sour puss on your face before, during and after' those intensely spiritual moments, he said."
"What struck people on the tour, Rulli said, was that many of them were able to experience for the first time both their faith and having fun with friends. Usually faith and fun are lived as separate entities, experienced on separate days and with different sets of people, he said.
"Father Keighron, 29, opened up many people's eyes, Rulli said.
"On the trip, he said, they saw 'the priest isn't just the guy you see at church' behind the altar, but also is a normal man who loves football, will drink green Sambuca liqueur at the end of the day and can still be a strong spiritual leader."
Read the full CNS story HERE. And if you want to sign up for any future pilgrimages Rulli might lead, you'd better act fast. This one filled up the day it was announced with 100 more on a waiting list. When I head to Rome, it will be with a group of journalists, so I think we can give Rulli a run for his money when it comes to mixing faith and fun. You'll have to check back here in September if you want to keep score.