R. R. Reno is the editor of "First Things" magazine, teaches theology at Creighton University and is the author of In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity (Brazos). Rusty converted to the Catholic Church from the Episcopal tradition in the fall of 2004. This reflection was written in the winter of 2005.
On a Saturday in mid-September of last year, the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine, I was received into the Catholic Church. I pledged to believe and profess all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. The priest anointed me with the oil of confirmation. I exchanged the sign of peace with gathered friends and, after long months of preparation, I received the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Martyrs' Chapel of St. John's Church on the Creighton University campus was not where I had expected to be on that day. Three years before, I had written In the Ruins of the Church, which was a kind of manifesto against such a move from Canterbury to Rome. That book diagnosed the pathologies of my former denomination, acknowledging that it had become a smugly self-satisfied member of the liberal Protestant club. Yet I argued with equal vigor that Episcopalians should stay put and endure the diminishments of Christianity in our time. I claimed that the disordered state of the Episcopal Church had not led me to despair. I criticized the habits of evasion and strategies of escape that seemed to promise refuge in some other church, and I proposed instead the vocation of dwelling amidst the ruins.
Almost Not Catholic
Here's the skinny:
● Born into a reverent Pentecostal family
● Former Pentecostal preacher and high school Bible teacher
● Trained in Reformed theology at Oral Roberts University (03')
● Entered into full communion with the Catholic Church November 23, 2008
Now let's dive right into the story from where it gets interesting
On February 5, 2006 my daughter was born. I'll never forget the overwhelming joy and love of that moment. I will also never forget the fear of the Lord that overcame me. It had been fine up until this point to linger in my own religious "ignorance"--I say ignorance because I knew there were serious tensions in my faith but I had no internal drive to resolve them--going about practicing Christianity in the tradition that I had inherited. However, it was quite another thing all together to pass that faith off to this innocent life. As I held my helpless daughter in my arms, I remember knowing that I had run out of time. The time was now to investigate what was the true faith, the true Church, and where in fact would my children be safe from the rising tide of relativism, secularism, and evil.