Silence- the movie

God will exalt the lowly and humble the proud….

silence_twoshot

 

I would advise that throughout the viewing of this film, one keep clearly in mind the Jesuit battle cry, “AMGD”….

Scorcese’s movie Silence is an amazing movie. On every technical level Scorcese scored a home run.  But the story is also an incredibly insightful cautionary tale of the danger of pride-the king of the deadly sins.

The story opens with two Jesuit priests,Sebation Rodrigues and Francisco Garrpe, being sent on a mission to Japan to find their lost Jesuit mentor, Christovao Ferreira. The two young priests are filled with zeal for their mission at least and ostensibly for the Lord.

Early on, they meet a wretch named Kichijiro. It is Kichijiro that takes them to Japan. Once on the island, they are greeted by an amazing group of Christians who have managed to keep the faith for years and years without priests to minister to them.  The faith of the villagers is deeply moving.

Early on in the film, we learn that Kichijiro’s misery is the result of terrible guilt from having apostatized many years before. Fr. Rodrigues- the main character-gently and lovingly administers the sacrament of penance to Kichijiro and reminds him of God’s infinite mercy.

Soon, the priests are discovered by the law and the martyrdoms begin. The brave, virtuous and holy leaders of the village are awarded the great honor of being martyred like Our Lord. They are long suffering, singing God’s praises. Their sensitive nature obviously in pain, but their higher nature soaring with joy.

The Japanese authorities finally capture and detain the priests, separated, and begin an ingenious process of psychological torture. It’s at this point that the loci of the story moves to Rodrigues. Rodrigues is told he alone will be to blame for the villagers being tortured and gruesomely martyred. He is also told that his mentor, Christovao Ferreira, the man for whom the mission was granted, has himself denied the faith and adopted the Japanese ideology and way of life even unto being an apologist against Christianity by writing anti Christian propaganda.

Soon Rodrigues meets Ferreira. It is all true. Ferreira then becomes the main diabolic weapon to be used against Rodrigues in his torture. Will Rodrigues trust in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith given to mankind by Christ and protected from error by the Holy Ghost- or will he trust a man? Tension mounts. However, one is taken aback by Rodrigues harsh words to Fereira: “You are a disgrace” rather than words of mercy and pity- “You are lost and I will pray and do penance for  you”.

In fact, Rodrigues is frequently doing and saying things that betray a weakness in faith: he repeatedly scarfs down food before giving thanks. He boasts proudly to his persecutors that he “will never fall”, he screams like a madman when thrown in prison and rebukes the faithful for being ‘calm’ in the face of death. Now all these qualities would be normal and natural in someone WITHOUT FAITH. However, with the faith- we know that the Holy Ghost infuses the four cardinal virtues as well as the gifts. So where is meekness, gentleness, piety, and mercy in Rodrigues? Where was longsuffering and wisdom in his predecessor?  Wisdom would surely show them that nothing is more important than being a witness to the truth; Council would instruct them to close their ears to pagan “reasoning” and keep faith and hope in the Church,  fortitude would give them the strength to witness martyrdom with joy and strength. However, what becomes increasingly obvious as the poor wretch Kichijiro keeps returning to the confessional for the same offense (apostatizing) – is that Rodrigues DESPISES THE LOWLY AND THE WRETCHED. But how can someone be a true child of God and despise the weak? For this would mean they despise Christ before all men since He became “sin” (ie wretchedness) for us.

Kichijiro was weak – he was like you and I (and all people) who continue offending God even though we love Him. After we sin, we get the grace to cooperate with consequent conscience and return to God (via the confessional) begging for mercy. And BECAUSE of God’s mercy these ‘little ones’ are the dearest to Him. In the new creation it is through the wretched that God will be glorified. The one scene where the viewer (with supernatural eyes) could absolutely bank on a future fall for Rodrigues was when(during confession!) he despised Kichijiro rather than have mercy on him and pity him. How many priests have committed this crime ? Take heed.

As the film progresses, we see Rodrigues tortured by witnessing more human suffering than he can handle (especially because he is receiving on a natural level)- and therefore sees only pain and suffering but not the supernatural reality of the glory of the Beatific Vision on the other side. And predictably, when the devil whispers in his ear to deny God (“Go on! Do it!” the voice diabolically urges)- he complies. In the moment immediately following we see the icon of the REAL Jesus flash before him-along with a cock crows and instantaneously the reality of what he’s done makes him crumble to the ground in spiritual agony. He has fallen. Hard. This scene is so powerful and chilling. The demon who has masterminded Rodrigues’ fall is shown motioning with his hand “Rise” with a back drop of flames rising slowly. Shudder.

Rodrigues lives out his life in his “mentor’s” footsteps-repeatedly denying the faith and being used as a propaganda machine against further conversions.

However, not all is lost. There are still visible movements of grace in the works. In one of the final scenes, Rodrigues is having tea with Kichijiro. He looks kindly on him and admires him for being a true FAITHFUL friend. Rodrigues is learning humility!  Rodrigues has manfully taken his rightful place in the order of grace: He is far more wretched and has fallen much further than Kichijiro.

Did Rodrigues actually give up his faith? No, not completely.  I submit that he is a Judas character but with redemption shadowed in his future.  Proud and too strong-willed in the beginning, working with Christ and His Holy Catholic Church for vain glory-his fall from grace was inevitable according to the designs of God to humble the proud and exalt the meek.  Immediately after his fall sees himself as utterly despicable. The evidence is that during the above mentioned tea scene, Kichijiro AGAIN (the repetition of fall/mercy that he embodies is actually very humorous and endearing at this point) begs confession. And again, Kichijiro is truly penitent. But Rodrigues says something odd for a non believer. He says, “NO, I’m a FALLEN priest”. He doesn’t say, “the priesthood is a fictitious Catholic invention to control people”. Nope. He is a priest. And that is a supernatural reality. And he is fallen and through his fall he is learning mercy and humility. And THAT is the Glory of God.

 

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!

 

 

 

Mass Series: The Orate Fratres

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

THE ORATE FRATRES & SECRET

Every moment brings us nearer to the more solemn part of the Holy Sacrifice. A break in the great silence occurs when the priest kisses the altar, turns toward the people, and with outstretched arms solicits their prayers saying out loud, “Orate Fratres” – “Pray brethren,” and turning again to the altar he continues, “that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty.” Of course, it is “our” sacrifice. And we pray with a contrite and humble heart, as God will never despise any offering made in that spirit, joining our own sacrifices with His. This is the last time the priest turns toward the people until the Sacrifice is accomplished and Holy Communion is received; Consecration and Communion require his utmost attention. The Orate Fratres, is then, something of a leave-taking prayer. The celebrant is entering into solitude, face to face only with God, occupied entirely with the great mystery about to be performed. After the Orate Fratres, the priest, with outstretched hands, recites the changeable prayers of the Secret in a low tone; hence the name “secreta.” He begs God to make him worthy and clean of heart, and to accept the oblations for the most holy use to which they will be put at Consecration. The priest says these things quietly because, at the time of the Passion of Christ, His disciples “did not confess Christ, but secretly.” The people express approval of the sentiments in the Secret prayers through the mouths of the alter servers, when they respond at the end of the Secret, “Amen.” The silence is to remind the people to be exceedingly attentive, and to exhibit the deepest respect for the holiest part of the Mass to come. The operation of the Holy Ghost, which changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, is not perceived by the senses. The sacred humanity is there, but it is always under the veil of bread and wine. The divine Savior takes a real body on the altar, He offers Himself, He prays, He sacrifices Himself; and still nothing is seen or heard by the faithful. Few realize the beauty of silence, the loveliness of the perfection of quiet, the sense of distance from the fret and fume of worldly matters. There are three silences: the silence of God, the silence of our churches, and the silence of our own souls. We can enter into all of these silences, and come out refreshed and strengthened. Mass time is the time to shut out the noisy world. When silent, the still small voice of conscience can be heard, and our mute plea will go straight to Him, “to whom all hearts are opened, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden.”

Mass Series: The Preface

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

THE PREFACE

As soon as the priest has ended the Secret, he raises his voice in the “Per omnia saecula saeculorum,” to let the people know that the Preface is about to begin. At High Mass, this part is sung, and the silence is broken for a second time for the “lifting up” prayers. These prayers comprise the Dialogue and the Preface, a solemn prayer offered by the priest in the name of the entire congregation. The dialogue is an invitation “to lift up one’s heart.” The Preface is a very ancient and stately prayer, mostly likely instituted by the Apostles themselves, and undeniably one of the most beautiful in the liturgy; in style, rhythm, and cadence. Its origin is based on those used during the ceremonies of the Jewish Passover. It leads up to the Canon, and was originally counted as a part of the Canon; its keynote being one of thanksgiving. Historically, there were numerous forms of the Preface in the Roman Missal, but today we have about 13, plus those for greater liturgical functions such as ordinations, the dedication of a church, etc. First, the priest repeats the invocation to the people to return thanks to God. He says, “It is truly meet and just, right and salutary, that we should always and in all places give thanks to Thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God.” Then, the priest enumerates some of the blessings for which we are so grateful. The words of the Preface are a magnificent hymn to the most profound and sublime Mystery of our Faith. They should give us a keener awareness of our immortal destiny, because they are of a higher holy nature that gives us glimpses of our heavenly home. With Christ, we can rise to a life spiritual and divine; the life that the Mass stirs in us more strongly. With a deliberate effort, we need to seek security from distractions. “If you be risen with Christ,” St. Paul tells us, “seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above; not the things that are upon the earth.” (Colassians III, 1-2.) The words of the Preface bring us closer to the reality of union with the angels in heaven. To hear Holy Mass is to be of one mind with the Church.

Mass Series: Sanctus

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

THE SANCTUS

I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated:…Upon it stood the seraphim…And they cried one to another, and said: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory.” (Isaias 6:1-3) The Sanctus is a canticle; a glad cry of praise to the majesty of God. It is a hymn of joy from the Old and New Testaments, and rings with the song of angels; brilliant with the light of an unseen world. Once called the Terasanctus, from the Latin words Ter and Sanctus meaning “Thrice Holy,” the first part is the praise of the angels that both Isaiah and St. John heard during their visions of heaven. The second part is the acclamation of the people when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Hosanna is a Hebrew word used in the Mass. When the Jews cried Hosanna, they used it as a congratulatory expression, and applied it in its highest sense to the Messias. But its literal meaning is close to “Save me! I pray!” The Sanctus is part of the Mass in both the Eastern and Western Churches in many liturgies; varying only slightly in form. It has been set to music thousands and thousands of times, in plainchant as well as in polyphony. Every major composer. and hundreds of lesser-known composers have set this majestic hymn to music. As musical settings of the Mass became longer and more complex, the Sanctus had to be split into two parts —Sanctus et Benedictus — so that the music would end in time for Consecration. After the elevation of the Chalice, the canticle then resumes with the Benedictus. St. Gertrude, blessed with numerous visions of Our Lord, related that Jesus once, supernaturally, leaned toward her and said to her at her recitation of the second Sanctus: “In this Sanctus addressed to My person, receive with this kiss all the sanctity of My divinity and of My humanity, and let it be to thee a sufficient preparation for approaching the communion table.” At the Sanctus, our Lord and Savior is on His way to visit us, accompanied by the heavenly hosts. How privileged we are to join with the angels in singing this great hymn that angels, prophets, and saints have used in praise, and as preparation for reception of the Holy Eucharist. …And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” –Matthew 21:9

Mass Series: THE TE IGITUR & MEMENTO

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

THE TE IGITUR & MEMENTO

The heart of the Mass, the Canon, now opens as the mystery of Calvary is renewed. The formula of prayers that make up the Canon must be followed in all Masses. With the exception of a few additions, it is of Apostolic origin, and has not been significantly modified since Gregory the Great (540-604 AD). In early Missals the “T” in Te Igitur was lavishly decorated, and over time came to include the figure of Christ on the Cross. These iconic designs became larger and larger, until they filled the entire page. This tradition still continues today: you might even be able to see the image of the full-length crucifixion from your pew, when the priest reaches the first page of the Canon. The priest raises his hands toward the crucifix over the tabernacle, makes a profound inclination, kisses the altar, and proceeds with the prayer. “Te” refers to God; this is not the case in the English translation that beings “We therefore humbly pray and beseech Thee, O most merciful Father….” In this remembrance prayer, we call to mind the whole Church Militant, and ask God to pacify, protect, unify, and govern it together with the Pope, our bishop, and all faithful worshipers. Moving on, at the Memento, the priest offers each Mass for a special intention – a commemoration of the living. We can and should also offer up our assistance at each Mass for some intention, as the Council of Trent tells us, “…no other work can be performed by the faithful so holy and Divine as this tremendous Mystery [of the Mass].” The Memento is a shining example of the Church’s “mother heart” where all are kept in eternal remembrance. The priest is mindful of all those present, and absent. He utters prayers of petition for them, enlisting the power of the Heavenly Father on behalf of all – Our Lord did the same at that Last Supper (see John XVII). The Church has never ceased to continue Christ’s prayer. In Apostolic times, living benefactors of the Church were mentioned. Their names were inscribed on the Diptych, or twoleaved tablet, and were read aloud. Or the Diptych was laid on the altar after the oblation but before the Consecration. Astime went on other names were added who held spiritual authority among the faithful. Finally, the prayer embraced all who were true members of the household of faith. If a person lost the faith or fell into heresy, his name was removed from the diptycha vivorum.

Mass Series:THE COMMUNICANTES, HANC IGITUR & QUAM OBLATIONEM

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

THE COMMUNICANTES, HANC IGITUR & QUAM OBLATIONEM

With hands outstretched, the priest proceeds with the Communicantes. At the name “Maria,” he inclines his head to the Missal; at “Jesu Christi,” toward the cross. The Communicantes is another prayer that may be replaced on certain feasts – during the Octaves of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, etc. The saints mentioned in the Communicantes are worth noting. First the Apostles are named, the rest being martyrs representing various stations in life. Linus, Cletus, and Clement were Popes who were ordained by Peter. Sixtus and Cornelius were early Popes. Cyprian was a bishop, and Laurence a deacon. The rest were laymen. The Canon is of very early origin, and at that time, the most profound reverence was reserved for the martyrs; because they had offered up the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. Now, the bell alerts us that something important is happening. The celebrant’s hands are stretched out over the bread and wine in the same way that the High Priest of the Old Law would have done over the sin offerings; with hands together, palms down, thumbs forming a cross. He recites the Hanc Igitur, a four-fold petition that God accepts our offering, that He may grant us peace in our times, that He may save us from eternal damnation, and that He may grant us life everlasting. One last time, the Priest blesses the offerings; making the sign of the Cross three times over both, then once over each species separately, while reciting the Quam Oblationem. This five-fold blessing represents Jesus’ five wounds. By this sign of Christ’s Passion, we beg God our Father to deem them worthy of becoming the Body and Blood of his beloved Son. According to Jewish tradition, all ceremonial offerings were first lifted up – that is, they were first raised up and offered to God, then lowered and “waved” to the north, south, east and west, making a cross. This was true of all offerings, from the sacrificial animals offered in the temple, to the bread and wine Jesus shared with the disciples during the Last Supper. When we bless our offerings with the Sign of the Cross, we are continuing this same tradition through the imposition of the sign of our Lord’s Passion.

Mass Series: THE CONSECRATION, TRANSUBSTANTIATION & MAJOR ELEVATION

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

THE CONSECRATION, TRANSUBSTANTIATION & MAJOR ELEVATION

The great central act of the Mass is here – the Consecration! It is the holiest, most divine moment of the Mass. This is a tremendous act of Jesus Christ, who, once again the victim, offers up from the depths of His Sacred Heart, the act of atonement to God the Father in heaven. The divine victim comes to us by the will of His heavenly Father and by His own wish. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. …Amen, amen, I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life; and I will raise him up in the last day.” John 6: 51-55. With his own lips and words, Christ prepared us for the great mystical renewal of Calvary. With these words we know that Jesus meant that we should eat His body and drink His blood. Not in a sense; and not figuratively, but truly. The priest is the minister of transubstantiation. Although God does it all, the priest also doesit. When the priest says over the bread “This is My body,” the heavens open, choirs of angels appear in numberless forms, and the mystery of Bethlehem is renewed by the glorious change that is effected in what once was bread. The bell rings three times as the priest genuflecting, adores the sacred Host. Then, rising, he elevates it, then places it on the corporal. Once more he genuflects and adores the body of Christ. From this moment, each time the Priest touches the Sacred Host, he will genuflect both before and after. When the Host is raised on high, just as our Lord’s body was lifted up high on the cross and offered as a sacrifice to God, we adore Him as well. Look to Him, who is the author and finisher of our faith. After adoring the sacred body of our Lord, the priest continues the Consecration. Again, his voice drops to a whisper, with head bowed, and using the very same words our Blessed Lord did at the Last Supper, the wine is changed into the precious Blood of Jesus Christ. “Do this in remembrance of me.” By this simple phrase, our Lord conferred upon His Apostles the power, and duty, to repeat this miraculous Mystery.