Saturday, April 7, 2012


Last night I watched 'The Sunset Limited' a film based on the play by Cormac McCarthy and starring Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones. The story is simple: two men sit in an apartment. Black (Jackson) has saved White (Jones) from suicide and is trying to help him. White, a college professor, does not want to be helped. As the debate unfolds Black tells his own story of redemption, his efforts to help others and his relationship with God. White, whose life of privilege could not be more different from Black's, slowly reveals his own vision of the world. It is a world that has been emptied out so that only the shapes of things remain, a world of suffering and despair. White believes in nothing and longs for annihilation. In the end he does not want God and departs leaving Black in sorrow, mourning his failure and his lack of words that could reach White in his nihilism. It is a powerfully acted and grim film, alternatively sad and funny. It illustrates both the emptiness and hopelessness of atheism and the dark night of believers who struggle to live faithful lives in a secularised world. The 'Great Silence' is how I describe the mood of these days. Once the Blessed Sacrament has been moved to a secure place on Holy Thursday night there is an emptiness, a great 'lacking', that continues until the Easter Vigil. The churches are bare and empty of the Presence that one takes for granted. This is the world without God. This is religion with symbols and without Sacraments. The great silence is the sound of the great emptiness. Without God there is no meaning, no purpose, no morality, no eternity. Atheism must logically lead to nihilism - the denial of everything. As atheism spreads it also poisons. In the name of reason and science it tears down rationality and enthrones intolerance and prejudice. As Christ Himself deliberately walked into the darkness of that first Passover so we who are His followers must follow Him into the darkness of our age. We must endure the great silence of this age of unbelief and be the still small voice of God. We must stand in this emptiness and be His Presence. This is our dark night, our Passover, our Calvary. To those who are faithful He has promised us resurrection.

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