The image could not be any more made for afternoon TV.
The plain white and blue uniforms, the grandfatherly figure who taught his players not just how to play hard nosed football, but how to live as decent human beings.
The setting was a blue collar college town in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, known as “Happy Valley”.
Cue the people laughing amidst the sounds of a marching band and cheerleaders shaking pom poms.
Unfortunately, it appears there was a monster in Happy Valley.
Shrouding himself in the pomp, circumstance and tradition of this iconic and legendary football program, was a ghoul, sadistically stalking little boys. Using the cover of a charity program, Jerry Sandusky allegedly raped up to 17 boys. I say allegedly because our system of justice presumes innocence in this case.
It is getting very hard for me to do so.
Image vs Reality.
All of life is encapsulated in this conflict. Each of us is caught up in the struggle between seeing that which is and that which isn’t. Sometimes we fail to see that which is because we are simply not provided with the right information. Sometimes we simply refuse to see things as they are because we don’t want to. Sometimes, there is a blurring of the lines between these two.
Nevertheless, for up to 17 boys (if not more, heaven forbid), the incongruity between their reality and the image of Happy Valley could seemingly not have been more stark.
The truth is, specifically for these poor boys (and their families) in particular, and for the rest of us in general, Happy Valley does not actually exist on this earth. Catholic prayer refers to earth as a valley of tears and the Psalmist, at least indirectly, as the valley of the shadow of death.
It is hard for those of us watching to comprehend how the devil can flourish in a place called Happy Valley. That is just the point. The devil uses the illusion to mask his true intention- our destruction.
Take this example. Here, the enemy used the very ruse of Penn State values, the very pretense of a charity designed to help children, to wreak savage wreckage and destruction, traumatizing families and sending shock waves of scandal for the end game of the ruin of souls.
If there is a compassion in all this, it is in the fact that the veil is pulled back and all of us, for a time, come to understand the devil’s true and unvarnished malevolence for us.
Do not fail to learn from such a painful lesson. Do not fail to be impressed by the sheer cruelty, selfishness and indifference displayed by this sociopathic monster and by the cowards that surrounded him, emboldening his grotesque, life shattering exploitations of our most innocent.
In the Penn State catastrophe, we should see the Devil for who he truly is and be far less willing to go chasing after sin, doing his bidding, gaining for him even more power to defile the innocent, destroy families and drag souls into hell.
Not my family, Lucifer. Not without a fight.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
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