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Monday, 08 January 2007 18:23

Written by JACK

The picture to the left is of Lino Rulli. The reason that I have included it is that I think examples can be helpful in exploring our Intentional Disciples theme and I think Lino's television show Generation Cross offers such an opportunity.

Generation Cross was a Catholic cable television show that Lino produced out of a parish in Minnesota that ran for about 6 years, won rave reviews, and netted him two regional Emmy awards. I first saw it during law school on Boston Catholic Television. The show was a series of comical, oddball vignettes that were designed to draw out some aspect of the Catholic faith in a fun way. Lino has since moved on to do two radio shows, Lino at Large and The Catholic Guy.

Besides the fact that I love his off-tilt, screwball and self-deprecating humor, what I loved about Generation Cross has nothing to do with whether it was an effective tool in teaching this dogma or that or whether it took some side in the Catholic culture debates. It was something far more simple than that: watching Generation Cross gave you a sense of the joy of the Catholic life and the relationships between Lino and the priests who were regulars on the show rung through as real and full of friendship.

I think a lot can be said for both of those aspects and what it means both for the living of intentional discipleship and evangelization.

First, the joy of life. Let's face it. None of us are looking for more misery. No, what we long for is meaning in our lives that generates satisfaction. Now, before I get a dozen people emailing quotes of how we are called to "pick up our cross" each day, if what you think that that means is that we should crush our desire for satisfaction and meaning, well, all I can say is that I think you misunderstand the quote. Because the search and desire for meaning is part of what it is to be human. And our faith doesn't call us to forgo our humanity, but instead shows its true nature and calling, as revealed in Christ. Frankly, I think some circles promote a very inhuman understanding of the faith and it is understandably found to be unattractive by many and, thus, something not worth taking seriously or investigating. But if Christ in fact makes me more fully human, then, nothing is lost. All the more, the world is opened up to me and I see it more fully and with greater awe, for I see Him present in it.

I think this spirit of joy, this recognition that Christ doesn't truncate, but broadens, my horizon is captured by Generation Cross, in all of the silly pranks and sketches, in how anything of life -- dancing, rock climbing, humor -- can reveal Him.

Second, Lino and the priests on the show exhibited a great friendship and a jovial companionship. They joked around with one another, made fun of one another, but also seemed to recognize that the core of their relationship was not simple sentiment alone, but their being one in Christ. I was really struck by this when I first saw it because it made me think about how rare it is for there to be genuine friendships between clergy and laity. Seriously, how many of us know a clergy member well enough that we are truly ourselves around them? (And they around us!) Or are we on our best behavior when we are around them, always thinking of some "churchy" thing that we can talk to them about? Or do we only know them from handshakes on the way out of the parish after Mass? Now, I live under no delusion that all of us will form close relationships with every (or even any) member of the clergy (or vowed religious) that we know. But community is something that the Church recognizes as being the fruit of being a Christian. We are one Body. We are a people. We are the Church. And companionship is at the root of any lived sense of that.

Some thoughts to consider. And if, like me, you are into quirky humor, you might want to check out one of Lino's shows.


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