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Authors: Shusaku Endo

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BOOK: The Golden Country
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The farmers open the door and go out
into the rain.

TOMONAGA
(keeping his eyes fixed on the door, says to Yuki):
You too had better go out and prepare for confession.

She exits.

TOMONAGA: Why is God silent? Why doesn't he help us? Even if he doesn't help me, why does he allow these poor farmers to be cornered like this? These five years Christians everywhere have been captured and tortured, and a tremendous amount of blood has been spilt. Why does he remain silent through all this? In Hirado, in Omura, in Isahaya, in Nagasaki, so much blood has flowed!

FERREIRA
(as if to reassure himself as well):
Do you think these trials are meaningless? Do you think that God would send us suffering just for its own sake? Lord Tomonaga—

He shakes his head vigorously

FERREIRA: The Lord would never send us such meaningless tribulations.

TOMONAGA: Then what is it? Why does he send them, Father? You know these Japanese farmers. In their ignorance they have followed along like children. Plunged into the boiling waters of Unzen, they held on, believing that this was the way to Paradise. Even when they had huge rocks tied to them and were dropped into the middle of the sea, with their last breath they sang
out their prayers. . . . This is true fealty. Even as a
samurai, I have never to this day seen so great a fealty.

FERREIRA: And the Lord rewards such fealty with great glory.

TOMONAGA: I also try to explain it this way. For these five years I have believed this. Even now I still believe it in my heart. But occasionally when I am disheartened, I am attacked by doubt. I wonder if these are not just words to keep our eyes from the truth.

FERREIRA: What do you doubt?

TOMONAGA: What need is there for such a vast stream of blood to continue to flow? When I see the farmers stricken with such fear and lamentation, I wonder if God has not deserted us.

FERREIRA: Whatever God does is good.

Ferreira walks to the other side of the room, picks up a bundle in a corner, and draws out of it a painting of Christ.

FERREIRA: Lord Tomonaga, look at this face of Christ. It is probably the Christ of the Sermon on the Mount. Have you ever wondered what Christ looked like? No one knows what his face was really like. Nowhere in the Scriptures is a description of it. But this face ... it is a face that men through the centuries have formed in their prayer born of suffering and trials. Take a good look at it. Can this beautiful face be indifferent to our cries? Can it pretend not to see our suffering?

TOMONAGA: Don't try to put me off with beautiful words. Tell me the truth, Father. Isn't God keeping a cold silence? Isn't he silent in spite of the suffering of these farmers?

FERREIRA
(weakly):
In these trials God is trying to tell us something.

TOMONAGA: What?

FERREIRA
(painfully):
That I don't know. But you must at least believe that he is trying to get something across to us.

TOMONAGA: Father, as I told you before, Inoue and the other officials have begun to suspect me. No, it's even more than this. They've found something out about me. The other day Inoue made the proposal that Yuki marry a young samurai by the name of Gennosuke who is employed at the bureau.

FERREIRA: It's a trap, isn't it? He knows that if you are a Christian you will not consent to your daughter's marrying one of the persecutors of the Christians. He's waiting to see what you'll do.

TOMONAGA: Of course it's a trap. At the time, I was able to put him off, but sooner or later he will come up with another test. As I told the farmers, my mind is set. As a samurai, it is only proper that I give up my life for my God. But they are weak farmers. It's for their sakes that I ask you to clear up quickly the doubts I mentioned to you. Please give an answer to my question. Why does God remain silent? Why doesn't he speak in spite of all this suffering of the Christians? ... No, I mustn't talk in this way.

Yuki enters with a white veil on her head.

YUKI: Have you finished? I'm ready for confession.

TOMONAGA: Yuki, make a careful confession. Confess your smallest sins and doubts. So that you may be washed as white as snow. Don't be ashamed of anything. It's painful to confess one's weakness, but this very pain cleanses the soul. Do you understand?

YUKI: Yes, I understand.

Tomonaga bows to Ferreira, then exits.
Ferreira sits to hear Yuki's confession.

FERREIRA
(reciting the opening formula in Latin):
Be brave. Go ahead and confess.

Yuki remains silent.

FERREIRA: Have you done anything to stain your soul with sin?

YUKI: Father, a girl like me ...

She falls into silence again.

FERREIRA: A girl like you ... yes?

YUKI: A girl like me ... No.

She starts again.

YUKI: Will God forgive a person for being in love?

FERREIRA: By being in love do you mean a husband loving his wife, or a girl like you falling in love with some young man? No, no, that's not a sin. Not at all. Far from being a sin, God made man and woman in such a way that they would fall in love with each other. Just as in spring the trees burst into fragrant flower and birds begin to sing, so this too is blessed by God. And didn't Christ help to celebrate the wedding feast at Cana?

YUKI: And will he also give his blessing if the man is not a Christian, but, what's more, a member of the bureau persecuting the Christians?

FERREIRA: A member of the Bureau of Investigation? Yuki, that man wouldn't be the young samurai who works for the bureau, would it? That couldn't be, could it? Why don't you speak? Can't you hear me? Speak out.

YUKI: Yes, it's Gennosuke.

FERREIRA: I was right....Since when have you known
him?

YUKI: Since I was a child. We used to play together. At times when the older children wouldn't let me enter their games and I stood crying, he would take me by the hand and sing songs to me. Since then I've always looked upon him as a brother.

FERREIRA: You needn't go into detail about the past. Did you meet him occasionally after that?

YUKI: No, I never met him again until I heard about him from my father the other day. But...

FERREIRA: But? ... Continue.

YUKI: I've been all flustered since father told me about the proposal.

FERREIRA: Are you in love with him? . .. Remember, he's an official. No, official would be bad enough, but young as he is, he is an official of the bureau in charge of the Christian persecution.

YUKI: That's the very reason why I am suffering.

FERREIRA
(silent for a moment):
I know how much you are suffering, Yuki. My heart goes out to you. But as a priest, I must tell you clearly: you must stop thinking about him. You must get over this infatuation. From this day on you must look upon the suffering you experience in erasing him from your heart as the cross which Our Lord himself places on your shoulder. And you must cany it just as Christ carried his heavy cross, that was laid on his shoulders that day in Jerusalem. You must bear patiently the pain of giving him up. It won't be easy, Yuki. It will be torture. But Our Lord knows you are experiencing this pain.

YUKI: Yes.

FERREIRA: You must pray to him with all your heart.

The priest gives her absolution in Latin. Yuki leaves. Ferreira stands up. The sound of a door opening.

FERREIRA: Who is it?

KASUKE: It's me, Father-Kasuke.

FERREIRA: And the others?

KASUKE: We've put our heads together and have tried to come up with a plan, but no good one comes to mind. Sooner or later the officials will surely come to our village too. There's no way to escape. Father, when that time comes, will Jesus and Santa Maria help us? If Jesus knows everything, why won't he save us? ... No, that's not what I wanted to say. The bonze at the infidels' temple has been running around the streets telling everyone that the Christians' God cannot save his people from torture by fire and water. Why does he disturb people with his stupid chatter? If I catch him, I'll beat him over the head. That's what I've told myself.

FERREIRA: You promised to beat him up?

KASUKE: Yes, that's what I promised myself.... Listen, Father. When we farmers plant our crops, we have good seedlings and we have bad. With the good ones, all we have to do is plant them and they thrive. But the bad
ones—no matter how much fertilizer we heap over them, they refuse to grow or to bear fruit.

FERREIRA: What does this have to do with what we were talking about?

KASUKE: Father, among the Christians too-no, even among the farmers in this village, there are the good seeds and the bad, the strong and the weak. This has nothing to do with their piety. Those born with a strong heart are able to bear up under torture; they are able to persevere in their piety. But those born weak and cowards—no matter how set they are to suffer torture, their shaking bodies won't listen to their hearts.

Growing more excited.

KASUKE: Soon our village will also have to meet the test of the
fumi-e.
Father, you won't be able to help us then; each of us will be on his own. The strong among us will be able to put up with any pain the officials may inflict. They will never step on the face of Christ. But those of us who have been born weak cowards—what about us?

FERREIRA: God will certainly help you in that moment. Why do you doubt it?

KASUKE: Father, I've heard these words so often. But will Jesus really help the weak as well as the strong? Then why did he himself throw the weak shoots into the river? Those without strength? I'm talking about the really weak—those that won't grow no matter how much fertilizer is used, or how tenderly they are cared for.

FERREIRA: What weak shoots did Christ throw into the river? What are you referring to?

KASUKE: You yourself told us about that. I'm speaking of the coward that betrayed him.

FERREIRA: You mean Judas?

KASUKE: Yes, Judas. Won't you tell me about him once more? Then I can make clear to you what I mean.

FERREIRA: The night before he died on the cross, Jesus ate a last supper with his twelve apostles. It was evening and all were seated in their places, taking their meal. Then Jesus spoke: "One of you will betray me," and dipping a piece of bread into a dish, he handed it to Judas, saying "Be quick on your errand."

KASUKE: That's it. When you told us that story, I couldn't understand it. Christ is full of love for men, isn't he? Then why didn't he show love to a coward like Judas too? Christ knows everything. So he must have been able to look into the coward Judas' deepest heart." And he was willing to see him fall into hell without helping him or trying to stop him. In other words, he will let us put our feet on the
fumi-e;
he will let us deny our faith. He will desert us before everyone's eyes. Isn't that true, Father? He pulled out the weak shoots and threw them into the river. That's what it looks like to me.

FERREIRA
(strongly):
Kasuke, do you think that Our Lord rejected Judas in anger and in hatred?

KASUKE: Forgive me, Father, but that's what it looks like to me.

FERREIRA: Listen carefully. There was once a farmer whose wife had deserted him, wasn't there? I forget his name. Do you suppose that when he threw her out it was for sheer hate? Not at all. He was still in love with her, and just because he was in love with her, it was very painful for him to look upon his traitorous wife. He must have been torn in two directions—on the one hand, by his still-burning love for his wife, and, on the other, by his hatred for her act of betrayal. And so he told the woman: get out of my sight. Consider what was in that man's heart, Kasuke. Our Lord's feeling toward Judas must have been similar.

KASUKE: Father, please don't get angry. I was just concerned about the fate of the weak seedling.

FERREIRA: But, Kasuke, Christ can transform that weak seedling into a strong one.

KASUKE: How, Father?

FERREIRA: Through the power of prayer. That's what you are forgetting. Just believe. When your heart is clouded with doubt, pray—with all your strength. Please think over what I've said.

Kasuke exits.

FERREIRA
(facing the painting of Christ):
Lord, if Lord Tomonaga's plea and Kasuke's words have reached you, please make an answer. I can no longer encourage them with my own words. Even though my lips frame a reply to their doubts, my heart no longer assents. I am suffering from the same anguish and doubt as those farmers. Why do you remain silent? You are always still. I know that one word from you would change everything. If you would only respond to our suffering, we would be strengthened. Why must we face pain and torture by fire and water? Is it impossible for us to believe in you while we are in a condition of happiness? Why is it bad to be happy? Why do you permit your people to fall and then continue to afflict them? Please tell me. Please speak to me. Why do you remain silent?

BOOK: The Golden Country
10.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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