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Faith plays key role for trapped Chilean miners, families
September 9th, 2010
01:12 PM ET

Faith plays key role for trapped Chilean miners, families

Editor's note: CNN's Patrick Oppmann is reporting on the efforts to free the 33 trapped miners in Chile.  He filed this post from Copiapo, Chile:

For the Rev. Juan Carlos Sansadral, there is only one word to describe the survival of 33 Chilean miners in a collapsed mine: “miracle.”

Whether or not their salvation will ever officially be classified as an act of God remains to be seen, but the Catholic priest who oversees a parish in the area and has counseled many of the miners’ families stands firm. “It was truly a miracle,” he said.

At a recent Mass on the Sunday that miners' families commemorated 30 days passing since the August 5 mine collapse, Sansadral told his parishioners, “May God continue to give us the strength that he has so far.”

Behind the Father is a statue of San Lorenzo, the patron aaint of miners, easily recognizable for his miner’s helmet and for whom the ongoing rescue effort is named.

A statue of San Lorenzo, the patron saint of miners, in Father Sansadral's church in Copiapo, Chile.

Faith has provided support to the miners' families in this predominantly Catholic country. “Camp Hope,” where many of them are living during the rescue effort, is dotted with makeshift shrines with pictures of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI, and a collection of saints.

Read more about "Camp Hope" 

“I tell them to have faith, keep having faith,” Sansadral said. “We are praying, lighting candles and asking the Lord to bring them back to their families.”

When asked about finding a way to deliver communion to the miners, as they have had food and letters delivered to them deep underground, Sansadral’s eyes light up. “I am going to discuss that with the Bishop.”

Originally from Mexico, Sansadral has worked in the Copiapo area for over two years.  It's been only a short time but long enough he says to make him feel Chilean in his heart. A sentiment the mine collapse only heightened, he said.  “I have seen such solidarity here,” Sansadral said. “It's not something you forget.”

He added, “It's been a trying time but faith can move mountains.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Chile • Faith Now

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soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. ROBERT MCCRACKEN

    Just because God sometimes allows us to be involved does not in any way lessen the fact of it being a miracle that all 33 miners were rescued!
    I truly feel sorry for any one who must explain away the fact that God loves us and sent His Son to pay the penalty for my/our sin. To think that I could be forgiven because of it is THE GREATEST MIRACLE of all .
    Christianity is not religion but a relationship with The God of the universe through His Son Jesus Christ. He will not force any one to follow Him but we must be willing to accept the consequences if we choose to refuse the gift he offers.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  2. BorrowedWisdom

    @JohnQuest
    Yes, John, life can be tough. I think as you said, the beauty and goodness and love that exisits is the motivator that keeps us moving forward.
    What you said about seeing the Statue of Liberty after being over sea for 2 years (God Bless you and your family! Thank You for your service to our country!) gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes, as well, Talk about a picture worth a thousand words! You have captured it beautifully with your so true words. Only when we have seen the darkness that wars bring, can we truly appreciate the freedoms that we have in our great country. I am more then greatful to our brave service people from all walks of life and faiths, which defend and protect the American people. I salute you!

    Life has surely reinforced my beliefs from a child up. My mother took me to church as a child, and took me to a few churches actually. I was able to attend the sunday schools in those churches. She told me that where I felt comfortable, that she would allow me to go attend that church, and that when I was older, I was free to make my own choices. I actually converted to Catholicism, at about the age of 12. I stayed in that church till I was 18 years of age. As the years passed, I found I was not satisfied with the practices and beliefs there, so I left. In my search for another church where I could worship, I went to several other churches, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist. The Baptist church was probably the one that best came closest to what I believed.
    However, I was not happy with what I saw in most of organized religion, so I stopped attending church all together. I can still have my personal relationship with God, read his word, and live the Christian life without being in a building with a sign or a denomination. I feel I have been more strong as a Christian having done that.
    Regardless of how you were raised, I can tell you have Love and that is the most important thing any of us can have. Wherever your pathes should take you, I am sure they will be good ones. I will certainly send good thoughts your way, and ask the God that I believe in to bless you with all good things.
    It has been a truly wonderful experierience having met you thru these threads! My life is richer for it, and I appreciate everything you too have shared with me. I will not forget you, The exchange of thoughts and things we have discussed, will always stay with me. You have taught me a very healthy respect for the athiest person, and have enriched my life. You have helped me to understand the ways and thoughts of a non believer.
    I see you still as a brother in life, and I cannot thank you enough! May you and your family always prosper and stay safe. It is my hope I will see you again under these blogs. You have my utmost respect. Take Care!!! :)

    September 14, 2010 at 7:44 am |
  3. JohnQuest

    BorrowedWisdom, It sounds like you have found the secret to a happy life (Love, Family, Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind). I often think that life is a complicated, dangerous adventure that we will not get out of alive, but there is more beauty and goodness then we could ever hope for. The day you knew you loved your wife, the birth of you children, seeing the Saute of Liberty after being oversees for two years (brought tears to my eyes). I think the only real differences between you and I (a believer and a non believer) other then 20 years is you were either grew-up believing or started to believe based on what you witnessed in life or like most believers I have had the joy to converse with, life only reinforced the beliefs you grew up with. I was raised by self described "free thinkers", life have reinforced what I believed, life can be difficult and painful but well worth living.

    September 14, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  4. BorrowedWisdom

    @JohnQuest
    No, John, I would never tell anyone such a thing. Nor would I try to play God and say why something did or did not happen in thier own situation. I do not know. I can tell you, that we as a family, have also suffered loss. My uncle died of a brain tumor, still relatively a young man. A week later his youngest son, was killed in a car accident. My aunt was devestated. I believe that as I have stated before, we are in a world that does not always hand us a good deal in life. We will have accidents, sickness, murders and so on. What I don't understand, is why blame God, for not doing something to prevent it? If he did, he would take your free will away.He will not interfere with your right to not believe in him, if he did he would be forcing you against your will. We either choose to sin or not. Unfortunately, innocent people suffer sometimes at the hands of evil, or those who choose to do evil.
    However prayers work, I know they have worked for me. Energy transference is a possibilty. I still see that as being a form of healing, just as medication, or the doctors that are gifted and dedicated to saving human life. I still, as a believer, see God as the one that works thru the person, and the person as a willing instrument to do these humane acts. You may see it different as a non believer. I can respect that, it is your right.
    Of course I taught my daughter defensive driving. I know she most likely would have an accident, or a fender bender. Its just a natural thing that happens.You are at a red light, another driver hits you. Things happen.
    Or take cause and effect. If I eat too much, I get fat, or if I smoke, I may get cancer. Thats not Gods fault. So, you may say, well he knew you would eat too much, why didn't he prevent that and protect you from getting fat? Same answer, I am choosing by my own will to eat too much, and I will pay the consequences of my actions. Mayby God thinks I should have had better sense then do allow myself to be in that predictament.
    If God intervened in every situation, we would be like a bunch of robots, being controlled like puppets on a string. God could make us love him, but he would rather we love him of our own free will. Just like we want our children to love us, naturally, and not forcibly. So, yes, I get your meaning.
    What does it mean to believe,and how does it change my everyday life?
    It gives a purpose to my life, if I am folowing what Jesus told us, love my neighbor, help the poor, to lay my treasures up in heaven, and not be so concerned about the material things in life, for they will fade away, nor about the things of the flesh (it to someday will return to dust), if I can leave good memories, and warmth and love, then I have hurt no one I know that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide me in this life, and it helps me to strive to be a better person. Therefore, I can be a better human being, then if I were on my own. We are told not to worry about those who can kill the flesh, but that which can kill the soul. I believe I have one. I want to nurture that part of myself, just as I do my body, and my mind.

    September 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  5. JohnQuest

    BorrowedWisdom, I am grateful that you shared that story with me (and everyone else reading this blog) and that your neice is safe in the arms of her family. Seems that you and your family have been very fortunate (I think you would say blessed). You know however that for every one of these happy endings, there are 10,000 that did not end so well. What do you tell those 10,000 unfortunate families many are Christians that believe as strongly as you do, (sucks to be you, God must love me more). What would you tell a father that wasn't as blessed as you were, God works in strange and wondrous ways, and he always answer prayer, God knows better that's why he took your baby girl even though you prayed for her health, he always answer prayers, sometimes we may not like the answer.

    I have no idea what was going on with your niece, I just don"t think it was God and if it was God, why would God need prayers to intervene on the behalf of a sick infant, he didn't know the baby needed help until you guys started praying?

    Hypothetical, what if we are able to prove that prayers work (beyond any reasonable doubt), only thing is, prayers work because a person or persons mentally transfers a bit of their Che (spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it) to the persons that are being prayed for. You Pray the person gets better, the more people pray the faster someones recovery, Some of our more spiritual brothers still believe this.

    I think even for you believers your faith only goes so far, when you taught your daughter how to drive did you teach her to cross herself and bow her head a pray to avoid an accident or did you teach her defensive driving. You would never willingly put your family on a plan where the pilot will rely on God alone to land the plane, I could go on but I think you get my meaning. What does it truly mean to believe and how does that belief change your everyday life?

    September 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  6. BorrowedWisdom

    I Looked and could not find that blog.
    However, what happened was my neice gave birth to a baby, and it had some problems. One of her kidneys was not functioning right, and there was none where another should have been. The poor baby was seriously sick. Lots of exrays and blood tests and so on were done. She was pretty much near death.
    At that time, I had many friends that I called upon for prayer (as well as the rest of the family, did the same) and people had her put on the prayer chains in thier churches.
    They had taken a set of exrays, and 12 hours later, a second set of exrays showed the bad kidney functioning as if nothing was ever wrong, and there was a new kidney where none had been. There was no mixup in paper work, exrays or anything. The doctors and nurses and everyone {including hospital personnel) were going by to see the "miracle" baby. Her vitals and blood tests were all normal! We were more then thrilled! The doctor told us she would go into a medical journal, and there were even doctors coming in from Johns Hopkins and University of Md Hospital (2 of our top hospitals) to see her and view her condition, from start to finish, so to speak. Her exrays were displayed side by side, to show the" miracle kidney", and the restored one as well.
    That is why I say no one will ever tell me there is no God.

    September 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  7. BorrowedWisdom

    Sorry I had to jump off here so fast, I had company drop by unexpected but pleasant surprise. My neighbor that used to live across the street was in the area and decided to drop by.

    Ok, the next story I was gone to share, I have posted on one of the cnn blogs. It concerned what I call a miracle, It concerned my neice. Let me see if I can find it and paste to here. I posted it under my real name, Jean. If I can not find it, I will retype it for you.

    September 13, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  8. JohnQuest

    BorrowedWisdom, Thank you for sharing that, I am very happy for you that your daughter and her friend came through that ordeal unharmed. I can see how that would strengthen your faith, I'm sure it strengthen your daughters faith as well as bringing you even closer as a family. I have heard stories like this all of my life I even have a few of my own (I was in the Corp (Marines) for 8 years) I still don't know how I survived when others didn't. I really think beliefs in Gods, Angles and Evil Spirits mostly comes down to how we are raised. I was never a believer, when I look at the world the good and bad I don't see the hand of God, I see the the hand of man or the works of nature.

    The moving story you shared have two possibilities, to a believer it was the work of God answering your prayer, to a non believer it was two honorable men saving two little girls, the girls may not have noticed the men because they were too busy trying to survive, to non believers the latter is just more plausible. The former leads into other metaphysical questions that have no answers like, what would have happened if you had not prayed; did God not know that your daughter and her friend needed help; why would God allow them to be in danger in the first place. I think the simplest answer works best, two honorable men (probably Marines) put themselves in danger to save two people that didn't know. If your daughter reported that they were in danger then with no explanation they found themselves on the shore out of danger, I think that would not only strengthen your faith but would even convert non believers.

    September 13, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  9. BorrowedWisdom

    @John Quest
    Dearest John...It has been a sincere pleasure talking with you! I am a little over 60 years of age,lol, and I have expierienced alot in life,too, as I am sure you have as well. Yes, I have a family and Grandkids and am trying also to live in peace with my fellowman. Something we both have in common.
    I will try and address your last comments to the best of my ability. No, I did not hit the Lottery,lol, but I wouldn't mind that blessing or stroke of luck! (Smile!)
    I will share two things that I feel were acts of divine intervention.
    The first : My daughter (who was about 13 at the time of this event) went to a seaside resort with a friend of hers, at the invitation from the girls family. When the day for thier departure arrived, I told her to stay away from the rock pylons in the water, as the surf is strong, and should one get dashed against them, they could be injured or killed even. I also told her to stay close to where the lifegaurd staions were, and not to go to far in the water. The riptides down there can be dangerous. I told her to call me when she had some free time to say hi, and she was off.
    They left on a Monday morning, and were to return Saturday evening.
    Thursday of that week, I was cooking dinner, which I did routinely about 4 pm everyday. That particular day, I had a sudden feeling of "something wrong" come over me, but had no idea why or where the feeling came from. By instinct, I stopped what I was doing and said a prayer, and I asked God that whatever that feeling was, to please address it, and for a moment I thought of my daughter and included her in the prayer. I said If Angie is in any danger, please put angels around her.
    As fast as that feeling had come, it went. I felt "normal" again, if not even abnormally peaceful,lol. I then returned to my tasks, and didn't give a second thought to it past that.
    About 7:30 pm the phone rang, and it was my daughter calling to excitedly tell me about an "expierience" she and her friend had that day.
    This is what she said:
    Alisha and I were in the water, with our rafts, and somehow the current carried us down by those rocks, you know, the ones you told me to stay away from. (Down that end of the beach, there are no lifegaurds or even bathers because of this. kind of an empty part of the shoreline>My comment) We tried to get to the shoreline, but we couldn't touch bottom and we were scared. We started yelling for help, but no one could hear us. Alisha was going to let go of her raft, and try to get to me, cause she was so scared and couldn't swim. I told her not to let go. Next thing I know, there are these two big men, in the water, close to us. They weren't there before that, because as we yelled for help, no one was around anywhere that we were
    These men brought us out of the water and up tp the beach. We turned to thank them, and they were gone! There was no one in the water, and no one on that beach anywhere around us! She said we were stunned by this, and there was no way they could have escaped out view. She said I think they were angels.
    Needless to say, upon asking what time that happened, she said it was somewhere around 4 oclock, because Alishas mother told us we could go in the water but not for long, as we were going to eat soon, and said itsalmost 4 o'clock!
    You can imagine how grateful I was for answered prayer, and knew that God had to have met my request!

    I will get back to the second. I must run now, I have company just showed up!

    September 13, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  10. BorrowedWisdom

    Jesus is the keeper of my soul, the love of my life, and the light of my life, both spiritual and physical. I will never outgrow him, would never desire to either. I have a personal relationship with my lord, and I shall keep it always, to me it is more precious then anything. I think that also answers the last question you asked, which was, what would it take to get me to change my mind? Nothing will ever make me change my mind about Jesus, nor his words, nor his promises.
    I have tested God, and he has always been faithful to his promises. I have expierienced things in life, that I am SURE were from God. Those things I speak of, were personal things, that could have only been from him, because of the nature of how they happened. Extraordinary I may say. No guess work, no well that could have happened anyway, no, these have only strenghtened my beliefs, and my love for the Almighty God . I do pray you will find him, I sincerely mean that.

    September 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      BorrowedWisdom, I accept your prayers of grace in the spirit in which they are given and I am grateful, thank you. You and I are not so different, we both are trying to make sense of the world we share, we both are doing the best we can for our families and ourselves (assuming you have a family). I would venture the guess that the only difference is that I don't think we need a God in our lives to do any of the things mentioned and you do. I think when we do something kind for another we do it because it is the right thing to do and it ultimately benefits our entire society. Also when we do something wrong or bad to others it is because we are selfish, greedy or stupid, human nature, again no God needed. Everything I have ever witnessed in this life (I'm only slightly over 40) good or bad was either done by the person, other people or nature, no God witnessed. Consider the following; a person has been out of work for a year and has been praying for a job, the person finally gets hired, were prayers answered? I think you would say yes, I would say yes also if the following were true, the person never looked for a job, no one know the person needed or wanted a job, and the job just appeared out of nowhere. I think we both can agree jobs just don't show up out of nowhere, the person actively looked, went on interviews, talked to others, sent resumes and the like, and that is why the person got the job not because they prayed.

      All of the extraordinary things that happened in your life, how do you know that God did them, where they delivered by some other person or did you work to get the outcome you wanted? For instance suppose you hit the lottery for 200 million, did God do it or the fact that you played and the law of average was on your side? The difference, you see acts of God in the kindness of others or the way nature plays out (the storm missed your home but destroyed others), I see other alternatives, if there are multiple alternatives the simplest one is usually the correct one.

      September 13, 2010 at 12:03 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.