After filming for the persecution film, "Silence" star Liam Neeson said he experienced the beautiful and calming love of God.
In a recent interview with Patheos, Neeson said he was impacted by the Jesuit spiritual exercises he practiced in preparation for the film. He said he watched the film twice already and called his experience "a meditation on doubt, faith, [and] a serious study about belief."
"You strike up a relationship with Christ through the Gospels, so that ultimately Christ becomes your brother, someone you talk to regularly, every day, throughout the day," he said of the Jesuit meditations.
Based on the acclaimed 1966 novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo, "Silence" tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), who are met with great persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor, Father Ferreira (Neeson), who renounced the faith under torture at the hands of the Japanese regime.
"I think Ferreira's idea of God was ultimately one of love, but this is what I choose to believe myself," Neeson revealed. "If God were a stern master, I would have given up the faith long ago. God is love, love is God. I have had personal experiences of God's love, beautiful and calming, all the things the Psalms talk about. If he was a stern master, well, I don't know."
"Silence" is not the first film in which Neeson plays a priest and he recalled learning something very valuable about God from his time on set for the 1986 film "The Mission."
"One thing that I did learn, something that I try to apply always is what Fr. Dan Berrigan taught me when we were filming 'The Mission,'" the 64-year-old told the outlet. "That lesson was and is 'to see God in all things.' It is a part of Jesuit training and it opened my mind in so many ways. I am still filled with doubt at times. And I come back to what Father Dan taught me, to see God in all things, in the good, the bad, the nasty, the brutal. I think this was the real test for Fr. Ferreira in 'Silence.' It is not clear in the film, but I think he had his faith when he died."
Neeson's co-star in Martin Scorsese's "Silence," Andrew Garfield, also made the news recently for his comments about how the film affected him spiritually. The actor claims he "fell in love" with Jesus while preparing for the role.
"What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing," Garfield told the National Catholic Review. "God! That was the most remarkable thing-falling in love, and how easy it was to fall in love with Jesus."