Andrew Garfield, second from right, plays Fr. Rodrigues and Adam Driver, far right, plays Fr. Garupe. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

‘Silence’ shows struggle to hear the voice of God

By  Breanna Azevedo, Youth Speak News
  • January 13, 2017

Upon entering the screening room to watch Silence, I was prepared for a film that would share a horrendous part of the history of Catholicism.

While it delivered on that score, what I also discovered was a film that connected with my faith.

Silence, Martin Scorsese’s newest film, stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, who play two Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in order to find their long-time mentor, Fr. Ferreira (Liam Neeson), after hearing a rumour of his separation from the Catholic faith in order to save his own life.

The film is based on a book by Japanese author Shūsaku Endō. It takes place in Japan in the 17th century, when Christianity was outlawed and those practising their faith did so living in fear of being caught and tortured.

At first, I couldn’t help but wonder why the film was called Silence, but much to my surprise, I came to understand that silence is what our faith is built on.

Sometimes it can be hard to hear God’s voice through our prayers and spiritual celebrations. We can be easily tempted to question whether God listens, or if God even exists. This is what Fr. Rodriguez was experiencing as he witnessed the death and suffering of so many Christians.

While we don’t experience this kind of violent persecution in Canadian society, there are many voices that use the silence of God’s voice as evidence to contradict the teachings of the Catholic faith. Many believe that in order to have complete faith, we must be able to hear, feel or touch it.

As humans, it is normal to doubt. I have encountered times where I prayed for God’s guidance and felt instead that I was speaking to thin air. But Catholic faith teaches us to believe without hearing, touching or seeing God. Having faith can be one of the most challenging yet beautiful aspects of our lives

In one scene, Fr. Rodriguez is told to step on a picture of Jesus in order to save the lives of a few Christians who are being tortured. He is being psychologically tormented as he struggles to choose between maintaining his faith or saving those who are in distress.

It is also during this exact moment that Scorsese purposely makes everything silent, not a single voice is heard, except what Rodriguez believes is the voice of Jesus. Christ’s words seem to speak above everyone else, asking Rodriguez to step on Him in order to end Rodriguez’s suffering and the suffering of others.

Scorsese did not use the loud sound of God’s voice to show us God’s response. Instead, it was when Fr. Rodriguez least expects it that God’s voice is heard.

Silence is a film that allows its message to stand out above everything else. Although this movie can be quite intense, it reminds us that believing takes courage and if we just stand back and listen, it is then that our faith is the strongest.

(Azevedo, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, Ont.)

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