It frequently happens that survivors of natural disasters will come upon touching scenes of religious objects that are unscathed amid the destruction. For example, a statue of Our Lady of Grace was found intact after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It communicated a sense of hope to all who saw it.
The media often publish stories and pictures of these scenes. Many such reports have a condescending tone toward the simple people of faith who believe in God and His Providence. The secular tyranny that dominates media automatically rules out any supernatural cause for these events, preferring to attribute it to coincidence. Gradually such awkward events that contradict the liberal, secular and atheistic narrative fade from memory.
Maria Lanakila and a Victory Over the Fire
A similar discovery just happened after the devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii. Amid the smoldering ruins of the city, there appeared not a religious statue but a whole church and rectory intact. Naturally speaking, there is no explanation since everything around it is in ashes.
The Catholic church is called Maria Lanakila, which means Our Lady of Victories. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful Catholic churches on the island of Maui. The parish was established in 1846 by Father Aubert Boullion of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The present stone structure was finished in 1873. Inside the church are paintings that are thought to be the gifts of Hawaiian King Kalakaua or his sister Queen Liliuokalani.
The parish is a vibrant community with numerous services, including Latin masses, weddings and its Sacred Hearts School.
Against all odds, this church stands, defying scientific explanations to explain why it survived. The secular media will never admit any hint of Divine agency. Tragically, even Catholics, following the secular script, are reluctant to attribute its survival to anything supernatural.
Alas, they are told the age of miracles is long past.
Anything But a Miracle
Survivors termed this event “miraculous” as reports immediately filtered out of the island. Many took hope from seeing the steeple stand out among the ruins. Church officials confirmed the church and rectory were intact, although the school was “a little bit affected.”
However, the media told a different story. They reproduced pictures of the intact building and noted that it “appears” in good condition. Others report that the structure still stands, but the damage is hard to estimate.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, a typical liberal daily, goes even further, speculating that while the church might look good from the outside, inspectors may order it torn down depending on the (imagined) structural damage on the inside!
New York Times writer Julia Flynn Siler ignored the church building entirely and delivered a lengthy editorial commenting on the fate of Lahaina’s giant Banyan Tree planted in 1873 that fared much worse than Maria Lanakila. She portrayed the massive tree as a spiritual center of sorts for the multicultural community. Unlike the church, the tree burst into flames, and it is not certain if the charred remains will later re-sprout to life.
Can God Protect a Church?
Such reports are to be expected. Modernity does its best to avoid the forbidden theme of whether God can intervene in history.
Church teaching is radically different. God does intervene in history and changes events. Prayer can help bring about changes in daily life.
God can intervene physically. He has given a guardian angel to each person. Their role is to “light and guard, rule and guide” their charges, even removing physical obstacles that endanger them.
God can intervene by preventing natural disasters, pestilences and drought. The Church encourages the faithful to offer prayers that call upon Divine aid in these circumstances. Such prayers would be idle chatter if God did not honor them by intervening.
Indeed, these prayers have proven successful. Church history is full of cases where prayers stopped plagues, brought rains or prevented catastrophes. These interventions are deemed miraculous since they happen outside the natural course of things.
Thus, God can save churches like Maria Lanakila in Maui. Nothing, save the hardness of postmodern hearts, would prevent this explanation from being accepted as true.
Is God Sending a Message?
God does not do things without purpose. When God intervenes with extraordinary events, there must be a reason for His action. He sends a message through which the faithful can learn valuable lessons.
Again, to find messages in God’s interventions is not contrary to Church teaching. Sometimes the messages are direct, as in the cases of the apparitions at Fatima or Lourdes. Other times it is up to the faithful to discern these messages and to take action from their lessons.
It would make sense that the Maui miracle would have a message and a corresponding lesson.
A Fire of Our Own Making
Many observers see the fire as the product of negligence and complacency. Officials neglected to take recommended measures that could have mitigated the devastation significantly. Property owners allowed brush and grass to grow, which served as fuel for the fire. On the surface, everything seemed like a Hawaiian paradise. Reality had all the elements for a major catastrophe.
Such a physical situation reflects a moral condition that is found everywhere. So many people neglect the measures that support a virtuous life directed to the love of God. People have given in to unbridled passions that create a volatile situation of their own making. All it takes is a crisis to set these lives on fire. The violence of these fires resulted in personal disasters and shattered families.
One message from the miracle of Maria Lanakila is that even when in the midst of an immense firestorm, souls can find an unlikely refuge in Our Lady. She can transform defeat into victory, for she is Our Lady of Victories. All it takes is trust in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. They will not fail. They will remain unscathed amid the storm.
Indeed, the age of miracles is not over. Maria Lanakila invites desperate Catholics to believe in them once again.