Rooster Cogburn Catholicism

One of the weaknesses of our day is spoiled, sappy, soft, sweet, sentimentalist Catholicism.

I’m all for Jesus the friend of sinners, and gentle Jesus meek and mild, I’m all for love and forgiveness and not being judgmental, but I’m also for Rooster Cogburn Catholicism. Sometimes we also need backbone and some true grit.

When we’re inclined to drift along and believe in the soft and sentimental comfortable Jesus we need to be reminded of his ‘hard sayings.’ Mary Rose over at Prodigal Daughter has collected some of them. Here are two:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matt. 10:34-39

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. – Matt. 7:13-20

Those are just two. Read the rest of the New Testament and you find St Peter and St Paul and even the gentle St John all speaking in violent terms about false teachers, heretics and sinners. For example, in Galatians St Paul is inveighing against those who would insist on everyone obeying the Jewish law and says, Circumcision! I wish they’d go the whole way and castrate themselves!” In his epistles, John repeatedly calls false teachers, “antichrists, liars, deceivers and children of the devil.”

To Timothy St Paul writes,

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.

Or how about this humdinger from the second epistle of Peter…

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment…This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings…But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!… These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Whew! Strong stuff. But then when you read the whole passages, you realize that as soon as the Apostles say this they turn around and say, “But I’m the greatest of sinners.” and “Love! you must love one another!”

We’re called to love and forgive and be tender hearted and gentle, but we’re also expected to defend the faith, call sin what it is and point out when people are in error because there are souls to be saved or lost.

Just remember though, you can only make a righteous judgment if you’ve first taken a long, hard look in the mirror, and remember St Paul’s words–also in Galatians–

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions.”

  • Magister Christianus

    Excellent selections of Scripture to support the Rooster Cogburn theology! Yes, Jesus is loving, yet we cannot ignore the tough aspects of His life and teaching, nor can we claim we are being authentic Christians when what we espouse would never be recognized by such intimate followers of His as Paul. Part of the scandal of particularity is that the incarnate Christ was a very specific person…a first century Jewish male…Who said and did very specific things. He is not a fictional character Who can be re-written however we prefer.

  • Richard Ballard

    And only when hearing such "roosterisms" can one be genuinely led to pray:I confess to Omnipotent God, to Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to Blessed Michael the Archangel, to Blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the angels and Saints, and to you Father: that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Blessed Michael the Archangel, Blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, Father, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

  • Denise Bossert

    Lord, have mercy on me. Lead me in the path of righteousness.And Richard, thanks for posting this prayer.

  • JARay

    As I read Richard Ballard's comment I could not help thinking of babies and bathwater!Confiteor Dei Omnipotente….Just how the present Confiteor has been emasculated!I had never ever heard of Rooster Cogburn theology until I came upon this blog. It suits me just fine.I had the misfortune to be handed a letter which a retired priest had written to the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday of last week. I'm sure that had he read your combox on Anne Rice he would have been right in there attacking you Fr.There he was, writing that Holy Communion should be offered to practicing homosexuals and also to divorced and re-married Catholics because Jesus was all about love and forgivness. He then claimed that failure to do these sorts of things forced many "very good Catholics"(!) outside the Church and is responsible for falling numbers in Church attendance! He claimed to be a retired priest but I certainly could not find his name anywhere when I looked on the Archdiocese of Sydney's website. I could never envision Cardinal Pell putting up with a priest who spouted that kind of liberal Catholicism.

  • JARay

    Forgive me please. I should have posted:- "Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti"….Put it down to lack of practice please!

  • Just another mad Catholic

    I dunno Father, in my experience the 'Rooster Cogburn' Catholics wouldn't recognise compassion if he was right in front of them dancing in a tea cosy!!They are the first to scream 'God's Will' and 'offer it up' when someone is in trouble rather than comforting them. If my experiences of them are representative they have a masochistic attitude towards suffering and extreme calvenist/Janesnist tendencies.They also think that just because they are 'proper Catholics' that they are entitled to give spiritual direction. Too bad most of them are either priests who say the EF or are laypeople that attend it.

  • Joyful Catholics

    Your Chesterton/Diogenes quotes got me to thinking: "Saint Peter, our beloved first Pope, … hanged,cruicified and died upside down." Hmm.

  • Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @ mad Catholic: Father's point is not that it's "either/or" but that it's "both/and"—both Christ the Savior and Christ the King. Over on the National Catholic Distorter, one writer wrote a jeremiad denying the doctrine of Hell essentially because (not a direct quote) "God is too nice to do that". But denying Hell, like de-emphasizing the other hard truths of our Faith, functionally both denies God's justice and makes His mercy meaningless … little more than a benign indifference to human evil.Believe me, I do understand your point; I've run into the "more Catholic than thou" crowd a couple times on other blogs. But that doesn't undermine the need for a little more Rooster Cogburn in the homilies.

  • Quanah

    Just Another Mad Catholic, If you haven't already, you should read Father's previous post (the first one) on Anne Rice. It gives the context for Rooster Cogburn Catholicism. Concerning this post, you have failed to address what Fr. Dwight has actually said. Concerning what you have said, I think that real compassion is Rooster Cogburn Catholicism. For example, telling homosexuals that they can live a sinful lifestyle is not compassionate. Telling them that their is nothing wrong with them is not compassionate. Being honest, open, and forthright about homosexuality being a disorder that they need to learn to work through and/or carry, and to offer to walk beside them and help carry that cross is compassionate. It is precisely because of these Rooster Cogburn Catholics that their is division. They insist on and live out looking at the ugliness and beauty of reality and responding accordingly. Most people don't want to do that; most people numb themselves in the face of reality. Christ said that he who loves father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him. Well, guess what, Anne Rice "loves" her son more than she loves Christ, so she left Christ and both she and her son are poorer for it.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Mad Catholic – the last paragraph of my post redresses the balance does it not? I agree with you that just as there are some soft and sappy Catholics who need Rooster Cogburn, there are some hard and nasty Catholics who need Mary Poppins Catholicism


    Excellent Father. We are in a spiritual war, a Crusade to protect the homeland, the Kingdom, so to speak. Wars cannot be fought simply with a "c'mere and let me give you a big God-bear hug!" Wars also require valiant knights and Rooster Cogburns. Too many have turned "niceness" into it's own religion which is nothing more than another expression of "it doesn't really matter what you believe." Thanks for a great post!

  • Just another mad Catholic

    Quanna I'm not talking about reading the riot act to the likes of the distorter and those who deny Church teaching. I'm talking about those who when seeing someone in distress tell him that unless he offer's it up he'll have to spend more time in purgatory, who don't offer to listen to him and tell him that its HIS fault that he has bad parents.

  • JARay

    I have just read the following on the blog by Mgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington in which he is looking at Evangelicals looking on Catholics and Mormons and the Evangelicals note that the Right to Life movement is driven by Catholics.But Mgr. Pope has this to say:-"But as Catholics have emerged from the Catholic Ghetto and had a desire to join the mainstream we have struggled to avoid many compromises. Too many Catholics have as a goal that everyone like them. There was a time when Catholics were widely hated and feared. We were strong and cohesive in those days. Our parishes were full, our families intact, our schools filled. Slowly we must recover our ability to experience the world's hatred."I do hope that Mgr. Pope does not mind me quoting his words but I do think that he is promoting the Rooster Cogburn attitude in those words.What he observes about the Mormons is that they are strong on marriage and families, whereas Catholics have too easily slipped into the world around them in having the same divorce figures as the general public. I do recommend reading his entire blog:-

  • Tancred

    Rooster Cogburn probably would have had to put down Archbishop Romero though.

  • John

    "I'm talking about those who when seeing someone in distress tell him that unless he offer's it up he'll have to spend more time in purgatory, who don't offer to listen to him and tell him that its HIS fault that he has bad parents."I'll admit to being rather troubled by this remark.Seems to me that the original blog posting aimed to remind us that we need to focus not only on "compassion" for others, but also on telling the truth.Those to whom you refer as needing help in distress..may not be able or willing to accept any help that might be of use.Sometimes God allows us to suffer some distress in order to teach us to depend on Him more than ourselves. It isn't fun. It IS necessary.

  • John

    As much as anything, this posting seems to propose this as the ultimate point:Know your faith well, make use of the sacraments to fortify yourself and prepare for death, whenever it may come.Be loving enough to your neighbor to tell him what you're sure he needs to hear, but do so in a manner that will likely bring him not to rebel against you, but to embrace the Truth you offer.Not an easy charge.

  • Just another mad Catholic

    John The 'someone in distress' that I talk about does his best to be faithful to the teachings of the Church, frequents the sacraments on a regular basis but through no fault of his own is out of work, suffering the humiliation of having to subsist on welfare checks and suffers from a mild form of autism (a genetic disease) which means that he has practically no vocation. He was told by a 'Rooster Cogburn' Monastary to get lost and wasn't even allowed to make a visit to show them that he can live in community and the autism means that finding a good Catholic spouse (not that he really wants to get married) is practically impossable. get it?

  • Quanah

    Mad Catholic, I agree with what you are saying. When I was unemployed for two years, had someone simply said to me during one of my lower points to just offer it up, I would have given him the finger and said, "Offer that up." My disagreance is with the identification of such people with Rooster Cogburn Catholicism. A Rooster Cogburn Catholic has such a deeply personal faith (meaning at the level of the person, not just the intellect) that it necessarily is compassionate in the true sense of the word. The type of person you are describing has not entered to that depth of encounter with our Lord. Hence, they are, I think, better described not as Rooster Cogburn, but as perhaps Boromir Catholics. (I can't think of a better character at the moment).

  • A’ine

    I'm a Protestant Baptist, and this issue has come up on more than one occasion for me personally, and in the broader Christian context.I think a lot of us Christians struggle in the area of having a God who is the "Righteous Teddy Bear" and the God who is only the judge, jury & executioner. I know my illustration is perhaps not the best, but I think you get the point! :)I have seen too many Christians turn off non-Christians with the holier-than-thou approach…attacking behaviour(s) and external(s), instead of the heart issue driving the behaviour(s). I have seen this personally in the area of depression…good Christians don't get depressed. If they do, it's most certainly a sign of sin and disobedience, and you should examine your conscience, bla bla bla. I think a great deal of the problem in churches today is the lack of balance in this area…and the failure of churches to call the spiritual spade, a spade in the area of sin…because we're supposed to "love" each other. I fail to see how it is loving to let a person continue on in something that puts their salvation at peril or their physical life. Just sayin'.

  • Robert H

    Good post father, meek does not mean weak.

  • Gail Finke

    Just Another Mad Catholic: You are applying Fr. Longenecker’s post to one particular situation that is only tangentially related to the topic. You are bitter and sad about these things but the post was about kindness and compassion, which the Christian must always give. The person you know sounds as if he is in a tough spot but, seriously, you think he should have been admitted to a postulancy when he has a mental disability and no vocation? Maybe the abbot or provincial was a jerk about it, but a person’s being a jerk does not mean he is wrong. This person you know is in dire need of compassion and help, but accepting him as a novice when he is not cut out for that life will NOT help him in the long run. A person with mental disabilities or differences is still like anyone else in that he is not going to be happy shoehorned into a way of life that is designed for someone else. It sounds as if the people involved in the situation need prayer all around.

    Anyway, that is not what the post is about, it’s about the fact that while some people want to imagine that Jesus Christ was all warm and fuzzy and never condemned anyone for anything, He wasn’t. Ignoring the parts of the Bible that say so is just giving people half of the truth, like feeding people a diet entirely from an ice cream shop. Sure it’s nice and comforting and sweet, but a person fed on such a diet will never be healthy . Sometimes what people need is a St. Paul who will give them a punch and say, “O stupid Galatians!!!!” That doesn’t mean that they should be nasty or cruel.

  • jacobum

    We are all in a spiritual war for our eternal souls. We either serve God or We serve Satan. There is no third choice and you must make a choice. Denying it, spoon feeding it, Church Nice from the pulpit and Bishops won’t change it. Truth is Truth. Period. It’s death, judgement, hell or heaven. Eternal Joy or Eternal Pain. Your choice. No refunds, No do overs, No revising and extending remarks,, No rehearsals, No second chances, No excuses. No Nada!

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