Silence by Shūsaku Endō
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30 Mar 2022 11:56 PM
From the beginning of the mission until the year 1632, in spite of crucifixions, burnings, water-torture and the rest, no missionary had apostatized. But such a record could not last; and finally the blow fell. Christovao Ferreira, the Portuguese Provincial, after six hours of agony in the pit gave the signal of apostasy. His defection being so exceptional might seem of little significance; but the fact that he was the acknowledged leader of the mission made the shock a cruel one— all the more so when it became known that he was collaborating with his former persecutors.
03 Apr 2022 12:50 PM
My hunch from some time back was not wrong. What are the Japanese peasants looking for in me? These people who work and live and die like beasts find for the first time in our teaching a path in which they can cast away the fetters that bind them. The Buddhist bonzes simply treat them like cattle. For a long time they have just lived in resignation to such a fate
04 Apr 2022 03:28 PM
What do I want to say? I myself do not quite understand. Only that today, when for the glory of God Mokichi and Ichizo moaned, suffered and died, I cannot bear the monotonous sound of the dark sea gnawing at the shore. Behind the depressing silence of this sea, the silence of God. … the feeling that while men raise their voices in anguish God remains with folded arms, silent.
05 Apr 2022 01:50 AM
Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.
05 Apr 2022 11:02 PM
In the mist of the evening their voices rose up like a fountain and then died away. ‘Lead us not into temptation. ’ In those praying voices was there not a note of pathos? a plaintive tone? Blinking his sunken eyes the priest moved his lips in unison with that prayer. ‘Yet you never break the silence, ’ he said. ‘You should not be silent for ever. ’
05 Apr 2022 11:32 PM
Heaving a deep sigh and searching for words of explanation, Kichijirō shifted and shuffled. The stench of his filth and sweat was wafted toward the priest. Could it be possible that Christ loved and searched after this dirtiest of men? In evil there remained that strength and beauty of evil; but this Kichijirō was not even worthy to be called evil. He was thin and dirty like the tattered rags he wore. Suppressing his disgust, the priest recited the final words of absolution, and then, following the established custom, he whispered, ‘Go in peace. ’ With all possible speed getting away from the stench of that mouth and that body, he returned to where the Christians were. No, no. Our Lord had searched out the ragged and the dirty. Thus he reflected as he lay in bed. Among the people who appeared in the pages of the Scripture, those whom Christ had searched after in love were the woman of Capharnaum with the issue of blood, the woman taken in adultery whom men had wanted to stone— people with no attraction, no beauty. Anyone could be attracted by the beautiful and the charming. But could such attraction be called love? True love was to accept humanity when wasted like rags and tatters. Theoretically the priest knew all this; but still he could not forgive Kichijirō. Once again near his face came the face of Christ, wet with tears. When the gentle eyes looked straight into his, the priest was filled with shame.
06 Apr 2022 11:00 AM
Did God really exist? If not, how ludicrous was half of his life spent traversing the limitless seas to come and plant the tiny seed in this barren island! How ludicrous the life of the one-eyed man executed while the cicada sang in the full light of day! How ludicrous was the life of Garrpe, swimming in pursuit of the Christians in that little boat! Facing the wall, the priest laughed aloud
06 Apr 2022 08:47 PM
Moreover this guard did not possess any aristocratic cruelty; rather was it the cruelty of a low-class fellow toward beasts and animals weaker than himself. He had seen such fellows in the countryside in Portugal, and he knew them well. This fellow had not the slightest idea of the suffering that would be inflicted on others because of his conduct. It was this kind of fellow who had killed that man whose face was the best and the most beautiful that ever one could dream of.
06 Apr 2022 08:52 PM
‘I have no right? That is certain. I have no right. Listening to those groans all night I was no longer able to give praise to the Lord. I did not apostatize because I was suspended in the pit. For three days, I who stand before you was hung in a pit of foul excrement, but I did not say a single word that might betray my God. ’ Ferreira raised a voice that was like a growl as he shouted: ‘The reason I apostatized … are you ready? Listen! I was put in here and heard the voices of those people for whom God did nothing. God did not do a single thing. I prayed with all my strength; but God did nothing. ’
06 Apr 2022 08:56 PM
‘Don’t deceive yourself! ’ said Ferreira. ‘Don’t disguise your own weakness with those beautiful words. ’
‘My weakness? ’ The priest shook his head; yet he had no self-confidence. ‘What do you mean? It’s because I believe in the salvation of these people … ’
‘You make yourself more important than them. You are preoccupied with your own salvation. If you say that you will apostatize, those people will be taken out of the pit. They will be saved from suffering. And you refuse to do so. It’s because you dread to betray the Church. You dread to be the dregs of the Church, like me.
’ Until now Ferreira’s words had burst out as a single breath of anger, but now his voice gradually weakened as he said: ‘Yet I was the same as you. On that cold, black night I, too, was as you are now. And yet is your way of acting love? A priest ought to live in imitation of Christ. If Christ were here … ’ For a moment Ferreira remained silent; then he suddenly broke out in a strong voice: ‘Certainly Christ would have apostatized for them. ’
EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF JONASSEN, A CLERK AT THE DUTCH FIRM, DEJIMA, NAGASAKI
06 Apr 2022 09:28 PM
‘There are neither the strong nor the weak. Can anyone say that the weak do not suffer more than the strong? ’ The priest spoke rapidly, facing the entrance. ‘Since in this country there is now no one else to hear your confession, I will do it … Say the prayers after confession … Go in peace! ’ Kichijirō wept softly; then he left the house. The priest had administered that sacrament that only the priest can administer. No doubt his fellow priests would condemn his act as sacrilege; but even if he was betraying them, he was not betraying his Lord. He loved him now in a different way from before. Everything that had taken place until now had been necessary to bring him to this love. ‘Even now I am the last priest in this land. But Our Lord was not silent. Even if he had been silent, my life until this day would have spoken of him. ’