God never left the miners in Chile

religion | Oct 15, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

The miraculous rescue of all 33 Chilean miners is difficult to understand from a purely secular perspective. In this day and age of militant atheism, coupled with relentless assaults on Roman Catholicism, it is refreshing to read about the central role that Catholicism played in helping these courageous men survive, and of their enormous gratitude to God.

Rev. Alfredo Cooper, chaplain to Chilean President Sebastian Pineira noted how prayer played a central role in the chief executive's deliberations over the miners' rescue. As for the miners themselves, the Catholic priest 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.' "

He added, "They had been praying daily for deliverance so they will testify had it not been for God we 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."

To those who cling to the superstition that there is no meaning to life beyond sheer material existence, we ask them to reflect on the following testimonials. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trapped mines.

Here below are quotes of the miners as taken down by various media, as collected by the Catholic League:

· “There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.” Time.com

· “Altars, prayers, rosary beads all came out as soon as word came out. Bringing together the entire country with nuns and priests visiting the mine to provide relatives with emotional support, and praying for there for protection.” CBS

· “Mario Gore Messes who at 63 is the eldest of a group of miners. He became the group’s spiritual leader requesting a crucifix and Catholic statues of saints to construct an underground shrine.” CBS

· “Many miners wore the same t-shirt. It reads, ‘gracias, senor,’ or thank you, Lord.” CBS News

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

· “He hugged and kissed just about everyone, and then said of his ordeal. ‘I met God, I met the devil, God won.’” WNBC

· “The miners aren’t coming out of the mine empty-handed. They will carry with them letters from loved ones, religion statues, and rocks from the mine.” WABC

· “It ended everything as a blessing of God.” Fox News Channel

· “Mario Gomez, 63 years old, he stepped out of that capsule into the arms of his wife, Lila, then he hugged her and then he took to her knee and prayed to God and the Virgin Mary.” CNN

· “Religion has played a large part in their hope insofar as their desire to get out of there.” Fox News Business

· “They have been touched by God.” Fox News Business

· “They’re being reunited with that land that they were singing about. It’s a belief in God, belief in religion, and the beauty of that country that helped to sustain them all of this time and now, here they are back up.” CNN

· “We’ve seen that for some of the miners that have come out talking about their spiritual cris underground and it’s a tremendously emotional moment for these men. Jeff, I wanted to talk about that religious moment there. We had one of the miners after he came up he said, he felt like he saw both God and the devil down there and he saw that God won. That is a case where religion can just be so important at a moment like that because faith sometimes is all you have to cling to.” MSNBC

· “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.’” Miami Herald

· “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.” La Quarta

· “We find them with God’s help and rescued them as Chileans. In this regard, [the Chilean president] expressed that, ‘God put us to the test this year, but God never puts us a burden that we are not able to cope with.’” Chile.com

· “What began as a possible tragedy, we hope—and thank God—seems to be ending as a true blessing.” Bloomberg.com

· “We have lived a magical night, a night we will remember throughout our lives, a night in which life defeated death.” Los Angeles Times

· “No doubt there will be books and movies and richer detail of a long burial spent, as one miner described it, close to both God and the devil. But it will be hard to beat the day of rescue, when millions watched and celebrated the survival of all hands.” Anchorage Daily News

· “While Rojas was underground, he told his wife of 25 years that it was time for a church wedding ‘once and for all’ to make up for their civil ceremony. The couple have three children.” Arizona Republic

· “We have prayed to San Lorenzo, the patron saint of miners, and to many other saints so that my brothers Florencio and Renan would come out of the mine all right. It is as if they had been born again.” Associated Press Online

· “Pope Benedict XVI said in Spanish that he ‘continues with hope to entrust God’s goodness’ the fate of the men.” Associated Press Online

· “He dropped to his knees after he emerged, bowed his head in prayer and clutched the Chilean flag.” Associated Press Online

· “Gomez wrote ‘patience and faith. God is great and the help of my God is going to make it possible to leave this mine alive.’” Associated Press

· “Jose Henriquez, 55, formed and led a prayer group while trapped and had friends send 33 small Bibles down the tiny supply hole.” Associated Press

· “We give thanks to God.” Associated Press

· “I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

· “He dropped to his knees after he emerged, bowed his head in prayer, and clutched the Chilean flag.” Boston Globe

· “This has become spiritual.” Boston Globe

· “And so, suddenly, there they were, vigorous and exultant and newly thankful for the privilege of walking atop God’s orb.” Daily News

· “As they came to the surface, most were ebullient—rejoicing with family and friends—and praising God for their blessings.” Daily News Leader

· “Their survival was miracle enough.” Investor’s Business Daily

· “It’s a—I don’t know how to say ‘milagro.’ A miracle.” Journal News

· “Some knelt and prayed, other pumped their fists. All of them are finally free.” Miami Herald

· “I’m praying it all goes well.” New York Times

· “We hope that with the help of God this epic will end in a happy way.” New York Times

· “‘Miracle at the Mine’ is what ‘Good Morning America’ called it, and it was a Nativity scene witnessed worldwide.” New York Times

· “He hugged his wife and sank to his knees in prayer.” New York Times

· “He dropped to the ground in prayer.’ New York Times

· “Some of the miners rescued here said they were touched by God.” New York Times

· “I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God.” New York Times

· “Rarely are we reminded so clearly of the sweetness of human life.” News & Observer

· “And now they gathered at the premises owned by a Chilean native, quietly marveling as one by one, the miraculous rescues continued.” Newsday

· “God was always present. It’s a miracle. This recue was so difficult. It is a great miracle.” News Tribune

· “I have suffered much, in the toughest times, I thanked God I had a daughter.” AOLnews.com

· “God wanted me to stay here, I do not know why, maybe for me to change.” AOLnews.com

· “Esteban Rojas, 44, left the rescue capsule and prayed. He got down on his knees, crossed himself, put his hands together in the pose of prayer, crossed himself again, and then put his hands over his head.” CNN.com

· “No. 21 was Jose Henriquez, 55, who had asked for 33 small Bibles to be send to the miners so he could lead a prayer group.” Wall Street Journal

· “Gomez dropped to his knees in prayer and raised his arms up to the heavens before hugging his wife again.” Vancouver Sun

· “The 33 miners trapped in the San Jose mine in Atacama, Chile, have requested that statues and religious pictures be sent down to them as they wait to be rescued.” Catholic Herald

· “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.” TheNewAmerican.com

· “We always knew that we would be rescued, we never lost faith.” News Tribune



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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