Archbishop advises Catholics to lighten up and avoid ‘funeral’ faces

Dermot Farrell says ‘sourpuss’ Christians ‘harm the mission and witness of the church’

The Archbishop of Dublin has advised Catholics against going around with ‘a funeral face’, a ‘sourpuss’ or ‘a grimace that would stop a clock’. Photograph: iStock

The Archbishop of Dublin has advised Catholics against going around with ‘a funeral face’, a ‘sourpuss’ or ‘a grimace that would stop a clock’. Photograph: iStock

 

The Archbishop of Dublin has advised Catholics against going around with “a funeral face”, a “sourpuss” or “a grimace that would stop a clock”.

“Our bitter thoughts and actions seep into our faces and infuse our words with a caustic bite; people notice when they look at us at Mass that we are a bunch of sour and dour faces,” Dermot Farrell said.

“Don’t forget to ask yourself this question: Am I a joyful person? Or, are am I one whose face is downcast, bitter and, at times, a grimace that would stop a clock? God loves someone who can give with joy, the cheerful giver.”

Speaking during a Mass at St Dominic’s Church in Tallaght, the archbishop said: “St Dominic can teach us that cheerfulness and kindliness, reflected in our faces, is a better witness to the gospel than the ‘funeral face’ sometimes mentioned by Pope Francis in his homilies.

“When Christians have more of a ‘sourpuss’ than a face that communicates the joy of being loved by God, they harm the mission and witness of the church.”

The Mass was held to mark the 800th anniversary of St Dominic’s death at Bologna, Italy, in August 1221.

Constructing identities

Archbishop Farrell recalled how “unlike the past, when the threat to the faith in Ireland came from outside, today it comes from within, where almost all generations are constructing their own identities.

“We see this absolutely everywhere in our culture. Freedom of choice reigns supreme: I become the person that I choose to be”.

He said the key issue “is what we input into that” and allow to shape our identities.

Looking at the crisis in the Church, Archbishop Farrell said “we need a creative response to the chasm that exists between faith and daily living”.

“In Ireland, at a time when the tap root of faith appears to have been damaged, the challenge is to make a convincing case for the Catholic faith, a life of virtue, and a just society,” he said.

Scripture speaks “primarily to the heart, not to our intellect,” he said.

“It is not there to be understood, but to be approached as the threshold of mystery,” he continued. “The person of faith stubbornly reads the world through the lens of the Word of God and speaks the divine truth. And this mission implies opposition, confrontation, and critique, since the keepers of worldly order are frequently looking through other lenses and listening to other worlds.”