Alberto Hernandez of Southwest Florida beat, raped, and murdered his 13 year old stepdaughter. He confessed yesterday, leaving out the sexual abuse in his confession, claiming he did not remember these parts of the sequence of events that led to the death of Michelle Fontenez.

Hernandez claims that the devil was in control. And apparently, whenever the devil is in control, the devil makes sure to completely wipe out one’s memory.

I understand that the presence of sin and evil is real in this world. But shoving it off into the spiritual realm, into the ether, can all to easily absolve us of our very real, very manifested sins. What consolation does the family of Michelle Fontanez have when a man who is locked away in prison claims that the devil made him do it? Now with unresolved feelings, they argue over wishing he had gotten the death penalty and having him suffer a life-term in prison, feel dis-empowered no one asked the extended family their thoughts, and the aunts of Michelle seem to have turned their backs on Michelle’s mother in anger over the mother’s complicity and/or denial.

With Hernandez making claims to the devil making him do it, nothing real is truly confessed. He may go to prison, but the man will not heal himself until he understand that is was him, Alberto Hernadez, and his own life experiences and whatever abuse he himself had survived, that led to 8 years of sexually abusing Michelle Fontanez and eventually to his murdering someone he loved. And all the more likely, whoever abused him likely separated her/his life of evil and sin and abusing children and/or animals from what was presented to the rest of the world, like Jekyll and Hyde. Friends of Hernandez and his lawyers refer to his being a “good man.” But clearly, his life was polarized and his own illness, his own demon, allowed him to separate these worlds.

The religious life is one that calls us to wholeness, not division. This wholeness is not just for world peace or global social justice; wholeness calls to us personally from deep within. We cannot separate our lives- what we do and who we are in one realm feeds into the other. If they are separate, we risk leading inauthentic lives. And the spiral downward can continue until, like Jekyll and Hyde, the shields of denial and stasis go up, and we completely absolve ourselves of any responsibility for what we do and who are. Hence, the devil. Those of us who care about social justice do well to remember that the smaller units of society, in homes and families, are just as important to address as the larger social concerns.

Every part of our lives yearns towards wholeness.

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