In New Mexico, A Crucifix That Seems To Bleed Accented The Life Of A Holy Priest
There are some amazing priests out there. You don't usually see their names in your local secular newspaper. You don't read about them on the "clergy abuse tracker."
But they are out there in greater number than many have come to believe and we have been graced to know any number.
One was Father Donnan Herbe of St. Joseph Church in Cerrillos, New Mexico, who died shortly before last Thanksgiving at the age of 89.
Father Donnan, a native of Cincinnati, labored right to the end -- 57 years as a priest -- and his work was for the Blessed Mother in the arena of mysticism. He was an old-school priest. He believed in the active intercession of Christ. And the supernatural seemed to surround him. We had a special connection and soon after his death, on November 29, we happened upon an old letter he had written and noted that it had been dated November 29, 1993 -- exactly 12 years earlier, to the day.
Perhaps Father Donnan was sending a little message and the same was true of the grace-filled folks around him. They often went to see father at his little church in such an old western-style town that countless moviemakers have used the main street -- right there near the church -- for scenes of cowboy shootouts.
One of those who was close to Father Donnan is a woman named Helene Tapia of Santa Fe, and recently she shared the fact that Father Donnan had been most interested in something that had happened to her -- something that had changed her life. We offer it for your discernment.
It was March 3, 1997, an early Monday, says Helene, and she was in the guest room of a local convent where hung a Crucifix that had been rescued from the trash when a storage company had been moving things around.
"I had spent the week before praying novenas and asking God to have mercy on me, and to forgive me, for being a sinner, and for failing God in all the ways I had," says Helene. "As I was praying and looking at this Crucifix hanging on the wall, I began to feel very emotional, my body began to shake uncontrollably, and my insides started to quiver, and I then noticed what seemed to be a bubble of blood, forming on the head of the corpus, right where the crown of thorns rests, and it seemed to me that the bubble was about to roll off at anytime.
"I was extremely tired from lack of sleep, and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I squinted and looked away in disbelief several times as I was still talking with Our Lord. But I had gone from asking Him for forgiveness for my past sins to asking Him forgiveness for the present moment -- because I could not believe what I was seeing and feeling.
"I began expressing to Our Lord that I knew and I believed, that there was nothing He, God, could not do.
"I just could not believe that something so extraordinary and so Holy like this could be happening to me -- not because God could not do it, but because I felt so unworthy of God's love, much less anything so miraculous!
"As I looked again at the Crucifix hanging on the wall, it felt as if time had come to a standstill, and for an instant it seemed as if everything around me had disappeared, and for a brief moment in time it felt as if Our Lord Jesus was right in front of me, nailed and hanging from a cross, beaten, bruised, and bleeding."
It was a life-changing occurrence for Helene -- a humble woman who works in retail. "I had never felt so much love," she emphasizes. "And with no exchange of words it felt as though Jesus had spoken directly to my soul, and my soul not only understood, but accepted what Jesus said perfectly, although my humanness might not have."
The feelings, it seems, were more impressive than the physical occurrence of alleged blood, but it all went together and Helene suddenly noticed that blood had started to stream down the hands, arms, and onto the chest of the Crucifix. There was such a transcendental feeling, writes Helene, "that I felt as if I was no longer in this world, and moreover, I didn't even want to be here any longer."
The nuns gave her the Crucifix, recalls Helene, and she went where so many in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque area went: to St. Joseph Church in that tiny outlying old town called Cerrillos. She believes to this day that the Crucifix was somehow connected with the holiness of Father Donnan.
"We arrived at the church surprising father, and between all of us began to explain to Father Donnan what was happening," she recollects. "I then showed father the Crucifix, and with respect to this beautiful and holy priest I will simply say that Father Donnan was extremely touched upon looking and holding the Crucifix."
He prayed with them for about ten minutes, says Helene, "but on this day it seemed there were not enough words or ways, to express what I, and everyone else, were feeling. Myself and those who I was allowed to share the cross with were once again instructed and forbidden from showing or discussing what had happened with any one else, except my husband, until Father Donnan had a chance to let Archbishop [Michael J.] Sheehan [left] know what had happened."
According to Helene, shortly after, on the feast of St. Joseph, and a celebration at Father Donnan's church, "I briefly met Archbishop Sheehan, and the Archbishop said to me, what a beautiful miracle. He said it was a private revelation, and that I was free to share it with others. Once Archbishop Sheehan gave me permission, the word spread, and I was getting requests to see the cross. People began coming to our home. Then we got requests to bring the Crucifix to churches, prayer meetings, and private homes." She is glad to share it with the public.
Miracles are claimed. Again, we urge discernment. Before visiting alleged supernatural manifestations, we always urge both prayer and fasting. After nine years, the Crucifix, asserts Helene, still exudes a red resin-like substance that has not been formally analyzed. Helene says a face also seems to appear, one they first took to be Jesus but that also has possessed characteristics of St. Padre Pio and St. Francis. A local television crew recently filmed it, and she is waiting to see if the bishop, who has never actually seen the Crucifix, makes a comment.
The message? As far as Helene is concerned, "Jesus is asking humanity that they look upon this image and begin to see that God is alive, He is with us in every way, and He is an awesome, powerful God, a God of miracles -- that God wants us to see through this Crucifix how much He loves us and to what lengths Jesus came for love of us. And that Heaven is crying out to humanity, to you and to me, and asking us to wake up from this deep sleep we are in and re-examine not only our faith and our consciences, but the very way we live each day. It's time to look closely at the way we are living our lives. Are we living our lives for God? Are we living our lives as to one day merit Heaven?"
Abortion, frets Helene. Cloning. She says it is a time of the "darkness the devil and all his cohorts have unleashed upon the earth," and that we are blinded save for the sacraments, the manifestations of the supernatural, and priests like Father Donnan. "Repent," she sums it up. Repent, have joy in Christ, "and be reconciled with God."
[Helene can be reached through e-mail or 505- 473-0347]
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