Finding God amidst the silence

In Martin Scorsese’s newest film, Silence, we follow the painstaking journey of two Jesuit priests who voyage to Japan to rescue their mentor, whom they are told has renounced the faith at the hands of tormentors.

Set in the 17th century during a time when Christianity was outlawed in Japan, the storyline illustrates the trials and bloody tribulations of the Jesuit missionaries and Japanese martyrs.

Upon capture, the main character, Fr. Sebastião Rodrigues feels utterly alone and abandoned, in perpetual silence, as he cannot hear the voice of God, despite his intense suffering and desperate need for guidance.

In his ultimate moment of distress, Jesus speaks to him clearly. He offers direction and tells Rodrigues that he was by his side all along – the Jesuit missionary was never alone.

Our need to maintain a close relationship with God – one where we can actively feel him, draw on his guidance and communicate with Him is just as important today, though the situations we find ourselves in are far less dramatic.

But life is noisy and distracting. Amidst our hectic lives, we have to seek the silence – vulnerable as it may make us feel – and counter our culture of “busyness” in order to build this relationship.

We can do this in small, creative ways every day – by praying the Examen, an Ignatian prayer and reflection that helps us to feel God’s presence and discern his direction for us; by listening to praise and worship music on our morning commute, for example.

The ways in which we seek the silence to communicate with God are individual to each of us – what matters is that we make an effort. After all, any good relationship needs work.

“When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29: 12-13)