The film represents a “struggle of faith” in which the priest must choose between the lives of his flock and his Faith. In the face of his trials, he finds God is silent to his entreaties, hence the film’s title. Finally, Christ Himself supposedly breaks the silence by interiorly telling the priest that he might outwardly deny the Faith by trampling upon His image to save his flock.
Such a shallow story so contrary to all Church teaching would usually pose no threat to Catholics who are firm in their Faith. However, Hollywood has tragically assumed the role of a teaching authority to countless American Catholics. Thus, the principal lesson taught by the film—that outwardly denying the Faith can sometimes be justified and even desired by God—does pose a danger to the many uncatechized that might mistake Hollywood script for Scriptures.
And that is why faithful Catholics cannot remain silent in the face of Scorcese’s “Silence.” Scorcese’s film is a tragic denial of God’s grace in a world in dire need of it. In these days when Catholics are being martyred, Catholics need to know that God is never silent. They will never be put in a situation where God betrays Himself. He will always be there when needed.
The secular worldview is so narrow-minded and asphyxiating, but alas so prevalent. Today’s obsession with self permeates the culture to the exclusion of God. It is little wonder that so many would think there is “silence” on the other side of martyrdom. It is largely because they find emptiness in their own lives. They cannot imagine the action of God and His grace.
Amid the frenetic intemperance of the times, the agitated crowds ironically do not seek out God where He is always found—in the silence of their own souls.