Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Chilean Miners Force the World to Acknowledge There Were 34 in Mine Not 33

The eldest miner and "Spiritual Director" of the group, Mario Gomez kneels in prayer.
Unless you are a hermit, you have probably heard that Thirty Three miners stuck in "The bowels of the earth" for 69 days have been freed. Trapped after an accident on the 5th August, Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major (otherwise known as the Dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows), found on 22nd August, Feast of the Queenship of Mary alive after 17 days and released on the anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima 13th October and the Miracle of the Sun.

Although elements of the faith of the miners has been reported, it has been played down somewhat on many secular news reports. Secular Journalists don't mind a little bit of the poor natives at prayer, but are bewildered by outpourings of faith such as those presently breaking out all over Chile. (If you need a good laugh have a look at Chilean miners' rescue: I am confused by them giving much of the credit for their rescue to God by Alexander Chancellor of The Guardian.)

Rev Alfredo Cooper, the chaplain to the Chilean President said that faith and prayer were central to how President Pinera handled the crisis. "When they first vanished, we didn't know whether they were alive or dead. So outside of the mine the role of faith and prayer was central. The President called for an emergency prayer meeting. We prayed in the presidential palace. We left their photos on the altar in the chapel in the palace. That prayer meeting was attended by all the ministers and two weeks later they were found."

Once they were found, faith became their means of survival. An early news report said:

Although a crucifix has already been sent down, the miners are continuing to request more statues of Mary and the saints to construct a makeshift chapel. The miners want to set up a section of the chamber they are in as a shrine.

Rev Cooper, says that Chile has been gripped by spiritual fervour in the aftermath of the miners' rescue and he urged Britain to come back to God. Rev Alfredo, who saw the miners after their release, said all 33 men emerged from the mine where they were trapped for 69 days with either a new or renewed faith in God. Rev. Cooper said "Many were Catholics, but many went down without any faith at all, many were nominal in their faith. And they all say this: 'We were not 33, we were 34 because Jesus Christ was with us down there.' They had been praying daily for deliverance so they will testify had it not been for God they would not be here. There was a flag up in the plaza yesterday saying, 'Only God did this', so they will testify to a man, this is the extraordinary thing, they have all come up professing faith."

And some evidence of this can be seen in the miner's behaviour:
Ricardo Villaroel said "Every day we said to each other that we had to be strong. And if they found us, good. If not, so be it. We could do nothing else but pray. I have never prayed before. I learnt to pray down there. I came close to God."

Esteban Rojas told his wife of 25 years, while he was still underground, that it was time for a church wedding ‘once and for all’ to make up for their civil ceremony. The couple have three children. And later “When Esteban Rojas came out he knelt down and prayed. In that instant his wife presented him with an image of Our Lady. It would be an image that would stick with many of the others.”

“Gomez’s ‘Dear Lila’ letter was filled with faith and determination, and showed the world the miners were holding strong. ‘Even if we have to wait months to communicate…I want to tell everyone that im good and we’ll surely come out OK. Patience and faith. God is great and the help of my God is going to make it possible to leave this mine alive.’”

Two of the miners who were previously atheists "found God" and joined the others in daily prayer.

“Miners wore the same t-shirt. It reads, ‘gracias, senor,’ or thank you, Lord"

“More than 1,000 relatives of the stranded miners moved to the desert and set up tents. Before long, the area around the San Jose mine became a village. A village based on prayers, hope, faith. In fact, they call this place Camp Hope. Every Sunday, there’s a Catholic Mass.”

And this turning to the Lord was not just in Chile, but around the world, for example: "When Polish miners found out about the catastrophe in Chile they lit a “light of hope” for the trapped miners in a chapel dedicated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners, in the former Gotwald coal mine in Katowice. The miners watched over the light and prayed for the Chileans."

33 miners, one for each year of Christ's earthly life, stuck in the bowels of the earth, in St Joseph's mine, for 69 days from one major feast of Our Lady to another, praying the Rosary daily, and converting their hearts and their lives to God's will, were released through His great grace and His Mother's intercession. And they are humble enough to acknowledge it. As the New York Times said, “‘Miracle at the Mine’ is what ‘Good Morning America’ called it, and it was a Nativity scene witnessed worldwide.”

President Pineras leads a prayer vigil for the miners during their entrapment.
Who can fail to be moved by the Chilean President stating that whether it cost 10 million or 20 million to rescue these men it was worth it? The lives of the Miners, many who were "peasants" or "socially unfit" by the standards of eugenicists, have been recognised worldwide as being infinitely valuable. It is no suprise to learn then that the President who is capable of recognising the sanctity and preciousness of every life opposes euthanasia and abortion which remain illegal in all cases (he does unfortunately support civil partnerships for same-sex couples - though not Marriage).

We found them with God’s help and rescued them as Chileans." said President Pineras, "God put us to the test this year, but God never puts on us a burden that we are not able to cope with.” “We have lived a magical night, a night we will remember throughout our lives, a night in which life defeated death.” said the President, “What began as a possible tragedy, we hope—and thank God—seems to be ending as a true blessing.”

Some other God-incidences of the miner's story can be found here.

Clare McCullough

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