I do apologize for taking so long to answer you—especially since you have been in such pain. The taking of an oath is a special thing that you ought to discuss with your confessor before attempting it. When one is dealing with a habitual sin, the taking of an oath isn’t going to help much—except to make one feel even more guilty if one falls again—as is the case with you. God is NOT angry with you. Your sin is a sin of weakness; not malice. You are not going to be possessed. The blood thing is nothing to worry about. In fact all your worry and panic takes on a life of their own.
The Lord will help you, but He wants you to want Him more than merely being strong enough to not fall. Your focus has to be on Him, who loves you so much. Spend some time each day, looking at a crucifix and reflecting on all the He chose to undergo for your benefit. He knows how it feels to be frustrated and alone. This habitual sin makes one feel very alone and ashamed. He is not ashamed of you. What He wants from you is your company and friendship.
Whenever you are able, I suggest that you spend some time before Him in the tabernacle. Just sit there and be with Him. Below is a reflection on His Passion the can help you focus. You are in my prayers. Merry Christmas!
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
Reflection on the Passion of Our Lord, Jesus Christ
The agony in the garden was really the agony in His mind. He suffered the passion in His mind before He suffered it in His body—to the point of actually affecting the latter by sweating blood. From here on, the mental and physical suffering played off each other and caused Him greater pain. At the base of all His suffering was the one thing that human beings dread the most: rejection. He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter and abandoned by all the rest of His Apostles; those He had hand-picked as His closest intimates. He was most rejected by those who put Him to death. They not only wanted Him dead, they wanted Him more than dead. They wanted Him to suffer. This significance was not lost on Him. He felt fully the rejection as each physical agony reminded Him.
So we thank Him for joining us on our human journey and actually choosing to experience what we fear the most. We thank Him for enduring the arrest and the cruelty of the guards and the Sanhedrin. We thank Him for enduring the cruelty of Pilate who allowed Him to be executed rather than risk his own political ruin—and for the cruelty of Herod who considered Him not worth his time. We thank Him for all the time He spent satisfying their preoccupation with themselves, just delaying His ultimate death. We thank Him for the anxiety of that night in a cell.
The next morning He was brutally scourged with whips with nobs at the end, and finally with whips with hooks that gouged out chunks of flesh. There was blood everywhere. The loss of so much blood not only severely weakened Him; it also caused a severe, throbbing headache that remained with Him for the duration.
We thank Him for this and for the mockery He received when they put a filthy purple cloth on His shoulders and open wounds. The Shroud of Turn tells us that the cap-like crown of thorns caused ‘the worst pain that man is heir to; devastating and unbearable.” This in addition to the headache he already had. Then they blindfolded Him and battered His forehead, brow, right upper lip, jaw and dislocated His nose; insisting that He ‘prophesy’ who had hit Him. Yet they were the ones who couldn’t see. Then they spat on Him.
He stood at the praetorium in utter disgrace according to the attitude of the crowd—while in reality, He stood in utter glory: almighty God, being present to every person who has ever suffered rejection, joining them in their moment of pain. It was there that He was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Physically, He was utterly miserable. He revealed to St. Bernard that carrying the cross was His most painful agony. He was so weak and thirsty, the pressure and trauma of the crown of thorns and blows to His head made the weight of the cross almost unbearable. Scripture tells us that He fell down three times on the stone streets that were filthy with animal dung—with the cross on top of Him. But the Shroud shows that He fell many, many times. And He got up each time.
It was only with the help of Simon of Cyrene that He made it to the top of Calvary. The Shroud tells us that the nailing to the cross caused (causalgia), agonizing pain like lightening bolts traversing the arms and the legs. After three hours of hanging there, his body just gave out. The Shroud gives as the cause of death: “cardiac and respiratory arrest due to hypovolemic and traumatic shock, due to crucifixion.” Transcending time, the moment of His death covers every human person who has ever lived or will live, but it also remains IN time as the Eucharist, present to us on the altars and in the tabernacles of the world.
We thank you, Lord. We adore you and we praise you. By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.