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.