Tag Archives: Snakes

Rattler’s rattle rattles plot twisting. [Update: Father Gordon’s humor.]

Whenever I put up a picture of a snake and say it’s a Timber Rattler (common here in Western North Carolina, especially on the road where I was) there are those who say that that’s impossible, a conspiracy theory, an exaggeration, just more unnecessary drama, all in a laudatory effort, methinks – PLOT TWIST – to normalize the presence of rattlers (which, to be sure, I love to see around as well). I don’t want to step on them. But I also don’t want to run over them. I love to see nature in full force.

The fake nay-sayers will say that surely I didn’t see the tell-tale pattern, or if I did, it was merely being sported by an immature Eastern Racer (Black Snake) or some such.

Then they’ll that surely I wasn’t close enough to see if it had a triangular head, you know, like this:

But then, still pretending to doubt my insistence, will say that is surely didn’t have an actual rattle, and add that some snakes can shake their tails with no rattles and make them kind of sound like rattles (true!). But, then there is this:

Now what? Baiting someone to think that this is not a Timber Rattler and so is therefore great for using in a humorous selfie like this?

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[In the picture immediately above, that IS a Black Snake. But Father George is wearing a black shirt…] But what happens then – and this is the purposed intention of those deceitfully shrieking about conspiracy theories and exaggerations – what happens then is that I’ll pick up what is really a Timber Rattler and I’ll get bit by that serpent and die. [In speaking with Father Gordon this morning, he quipped that “it is unclear who was about to bite whom.” Hahaha. :-) I walked or rather slithered right into this. :-) ]

ANALOGY TIME!

  • “Father George! Father George! You’re exaggerating! You’re a conspiracy theorist! You’re melodramatic! Stop saying that Covid-19 vaccines are taken from living organs of human beings (aborted alive for this reason), because, you know, that means that you, Father George, are taking away our good feelings for getting Covid-19 vaccines! You meanie! You old meanie! Those were miscarriages taken out of dumpsters and, you know, stuff like that! Father George, you’re like that old Serpent, the ancient dragon and Satan, lying about doctrine and morality like you do. Father George, there is no sin, there is no Savior, there is no heaven, no hell, and therefore no Satan, no ancient serpent!”

And these people bait even the elect to fall into sin, getting bit by the demonic rebellion against the Living Truth that the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception is.

But then, plot twist:

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Beasts of WNC. I love my parish.

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Mama bear and baby bears headed in the direction of the hermitage, about three quarters of a mile as the bear walks, right up and down a back ridge or two.

Then there’s this guy out on the front walk of Holy Redeemer church here in Andrews. Just a baby, and despite the infancy camouflage, I think this is merely an Eastern Racer:

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Then, on a Communion Call to home-bound in the time of Covid-1984, fully 16 dear. It would have been 17, but one died after getting its leg blown off last hunting season. People who have guns but who don’t know how to shoot are so very annoying. I won’t tell you where these are, except that they are within the five state area near Andrews!

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Devil Dog’s Son, Fr Byers: ironic proof

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Yours truly on a day-off, of sorts. Smiling and what all. The gall. A snake-handler preacher man ruint with longevity. Way too snarky. Having waaaay tooooo much fun. And who ever heard of a day off for a priest anyway? Sounds demonic. Anyone who casts out Satan must be doing this by Satan, and is a devil himself, a downright snake in the grass. And… and… I’m the Son of a Devil Dog. So, that seals it.

VMFA 312 Marine Fighter Attack Pilot Devil Dog six 50 cals

While the USMC in general has a nickname of Devil Dogs, dad was a commander of the Checkerboard Marine Fighter Attack Squadron of gullwing F4U Corsairs (VMFA 312) each sporting six 50 Cals and having the logo of a Devil Dog carrying the same. But the idea that the Marines are Devil Dogs isn’t that they are demonic. Here’s a one minute recruiting commercial about that:

The idea of extreme violence of a Devil Dog is not that goodness and kindness and truth are suppressed. No no. Instead, it is to bring goodness and kindness and truth to those who are happy to receive it even if it means battling in hell to do it, and looking, for that reason, finally coming out of hell, very much like the devil himself for having fought battles in hell over against the devil, that serpent who, for all his bluster, has been vanquished by Christ. I mean, isn’t it true that Christ Jesus looked demonically criminal on the Cross for having battled all of that hell that was broken out all at once against Him on Calvary?

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One of the greatest defeats of contemporary mankind is the loss of a sense of irony. We don’t see behind the truths plainly spoken to see… the truth! What to do when we are just learning to live with Him who is Truth, but who for all intents and purposes and constructions looks to be Untruthfulness. He did that for our sake, by the way, laying down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. I might have said that once or twice before… ;-) Jesus is very much the Devil Dog Himself. You don’t think so? A blasphemy you say? Let’s review something I’ve many times posted, but not in a while. It bears a re-reading. We MUST get a sense of irony back if we are to be Christian, if we are to have a sense of identity, a solid base from which to work, that is, a oneness with Christ Jesus, Himself Irony Incarnate, as it were, so to speak, a Devil Dog. Let’s turn to the great historian Hilaire Belloc once again, for, after all, we bear the burden of being naive, or, as he says, “young”, “pure”, “ingenuous”, so easily thrown into fear, unthinking, cowardly fear. Enough of that! Behold: irony!

hilaire belloc“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.” [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

If there’s any proof that I’m a Devil Dog, it’s that I love such irony in the face of my being the most naive, the “youngest”, the “purist”, the most “ingenuous”, the most stupid idiot in the world, unable to appreciate such truths until they smack me down with such extreme violence that I gotta pay attention. It’s like Thomas the doubting Apostle. I’m forced to put my finger into the holes the nails made in the hands and feet of Christ. I’m forced to put my hand into the side of Christ, where I touch that beating heart, still pierced open. “My Lord and my God,” I blurt out. The irony is, I’m the absolute last person who would ever say that. Not me. I’m the one who put those wounds there. But the truth, “vivid with ironical power”, shines the light, and makes me a Devil Dog too. Thank you Jesus, you who want to make us all Devil Dogs.

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Satan’s camouflage: humility

Insignificant, unassuming, unnoticed, blending in, not because he’s humble, but because he’s the ultimate “gray man”, the one who’s a fly on the wall while actually being the elephant in the room, the most clever of all creatures. What to do with such insidious deceit?

  • If we’re trusting in ourselves, you know, so that with our own strength we do not have we go about trying really hard to be insignificant, unassuming, unnoticed, just blending in as one to be congratulated for being so humble, then, with such mind games, imitating Satan, the ol’ monkey see monkey do, we will fall.
  • If, instead, we trust in our Lord Jesus, that He is our Savior, that he doesn’t give us strength but rather draws us to be united to His strength – that is, His love, His truth, and therefore this being a matter of actual humility in action, that is, thanksgiving – then the insidious deceit of Satan’s fake humility is easily seen for what it is, terribly arrogant, hateful without limit. And we remain in awe before the majestic love of Jesus for us, He bearing the wounds of having faced the entirety of Satan’s arrogance and hate for us. Irony Incarnate, the Divine Son of his good mom, kills off our idiocy; He says: I am a serpent, a worm, a maggot and not man at all (see Psalm 22:7).

The serpent in the picture, only some inches long, was seen yesterday in the gravel just outside the church.

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Snake in the grass at the rectory

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This fellow appeared last night. I’m thinking there is a brood of vipers under the rectory.

Despite the seemingly diamond shaped head, this just hatched serpent is surely NOT a baby Copperhead. It’s certainly NOT a baby Rattler, not even an Eastern of that ilk. I’m no herpetologist, but I’m guessing that the wide scale-plates on top of the head indicate that this kind of snake stays tiny. You would otherwise see a gazillion little scales. Maybe.

But it could get big, so that it’s perhaps a baby Eastern Black Racer, or Rat Snake, which anywhere else might be called a Bull Snake. They can get six feet long. Harmless. Beneficial. If you don’t have chickens!

He was let go in the Asparagus Patch. He can guard the spears from poachers, perhaps even underground moles who love to eat Asparagus roots.

Laudie-dog wasn’t invited to get a look-see, as she would instantly tear the poor creature to pieces. If one knows this, one can avoid it.

Shadow-dog was invited to get up close, nose to nose, and wasn’t nervous at all. Just inquisitive, and looking to me to know what to think of such a beast. I just let the snake go and so he absolutely didn’t care one way or the other. Gooooood daaaawgy!

Some notes:

  • We’re to be as clever as snakes even if as innocent as doves. One cannot actually be clever without being innocent. Being innocent develops cleverness right quickly.
  • Moses lifted up an image of the kind of snake that was killing the people in the desert so that all of those who looked upon it might live. Jesus said that He is that snake on the cross. He looks like us, we who kill each other off in sin, but He, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, providing us life, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • We are to beware, however, of the ancient Serpent, Satan, and we are to be aware of what Satan can do to certain willing parties, taking them over even though Satan makes them look good. Do you remember this scene of the false prophet, the anti-Christ, directed by the ancient Serpent, Satan?

SIGNORELLI ANTICHRIST

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Of snakes and souvenirs

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There is a couple of miles high up in the mountains in which it is as likely as not to see a Timber Rattler, alive or dead, on the curvy simple road that is made of loose gravel sprayed with oil.

Locals have a penchant for running over snakes and turtles and anything else they can steer into perhaps without wrecking their vehicles in order to do so. As often as not, if it is a snake, especially a rattler, they’ll cut the head off, and the rattle, for souvenirs.

Jesus has His own souvenirs after His own encounter with the snake mentioned in Genesis 3:15. Jesus’ souvenirs are in the form of five wounds in hands and feet and in His side, His Heart. But Jesus otherwise doesn’t parade around a snake head or tail.

What a strange lot we are. But God loved the world so much that…

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Why some exorcisms fail

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The other night, coming back from the day-off, very near the hermitage, I once again encountered a magnificent Timber Rattler. Screech! Sassy the Subaru’s brakes work most excellently. Out on to the road I popped with telephone camera in hand. I kept about eight feet away as he was ready to spring into action. I took a couple of pictures, and then a car came. I put Sassy into gear and carefully, deliberately, exaggeratedly drove around our snake friend, hoping the crowd in the car behind me would take note of the nice snake and drive around this wonder of nature. Instead, they very slowly and deliberately drove over him, thinking they had accomplished something.

And this is exactly why some exorcisms fail: because of pride, because of attacking Satan directly under one’s own (lack of) wherewithal, in one’s own name, not in the Holy Name of Jesus, but still thinking one has accomplished something.

This is a mind-game with Satan on his own terms, on his own turf. He will be happy to make one think that he has been thrown out, only to come back in a more insidious way. Jesus Himself speaks of this kind of stupidity. This is a seven-fold failure, a perfect fail.

We must go about our entire lives not with self-absorbed mind-games, not with self-referential ways and means, not with the darkness and blindness of pride, but instead through grace received in humility, we are to walk in the presence of Jesus, who is Himself our Savior:

  • NOT an exorcism: “I cast you out, Satan, in my own name!”
  • TRULY an exorcism: “I cast you out, Satan, in the Holy Name of Jesus!”

There’s a huge difference. It’s the same with authority, which one must have:

  • NOT an exorcism: “I cast you out, Satan, in my own name and under my own authority because I don’t care what Jesus’ Church has to say about it!”
  • TRULY an exorcism: “I cast you out, Satan, in the Holy Name of Jesus and with the express mandate to do so as given by my bishop!”

Again, the exorcist who works under his own authority may seem to have great success baiting him into thinking that he is right to buck the authority Jesus Himself gave to His own Church. The disobedient exorcist may think he is himself most charitable, a martyr of charity. No. Satan will come back in more insidious ways, destroying peoples’ lives all the more effectively.

The upshot in our own lives: We are not to attack Satan directly. We are not to attack sin directly. Yes, we are to make a firm purpose of amendment, avoid occasions of sin, get out of an occasion of sin should we find ourselves in such, all the normal, traditional things. Yep.

BUT! But we are NOT to make it all about us, about how powerful and great we are, because we not that. Instead, we are to call on Saint Michael, on our guardian angels, and do this with humility. We are to be humbly thankful to Jesus for coming into this fallen world to grab us and bring us to heaven, because, wow, it’s so obvious we need saving and it’s He that is our Savior, NOT us. The person who says: “I’m doing well now!” is the person who will fall almost immediately. We cast out Satan and sin by Jesus drawing us into friendship with Himself, by being in humble reverence, thankful, in friendship, before Jesus, confident of His love for us, of His immediate care for us.

Jesus said that we cannot, will not enter the kingdom of heaven if we are not like little children before our heavenly Father. Little kids don’t count on themselves to be saved. They look with confidence to others, and in the cases above, to Jesus. Jesus saves us from Satan. Jesus leads us into a true life of prayer, to walk in His presence, even in the most trying of circumstances. Thank you Jesus.

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Crotalus Horridus Timber Rattler

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“You brood of vipers!” – Saint John the Baptist

I came upon this guy near the hermitage on the “day-off” yesterday. Not quite four feet long [correction: 50.5 inches] but really quite hefty. He’s been eating very well. I’m guessing a few pounds. Quite the set of fangs. Quite the rattler, from which you can tell he’s only a youngster:

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Timber Rattlers, everywhere in this area of the Blue Mountains, can also be almost totally black, but this guy had only a black tail. The rest was the usual spectacular golden color and black markings:

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Meanwhile, getting back to the rectory late at night, another suspicious pattern, but actually just a baby black snake faking being a Timber Rattler. This is just a section of the body. He’s been ripped apart before I got back from the “day-off.” Poor thing.

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Saving snakes from the birds

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So, there I was, driving up to the bank Night Deposit just before nightfall after the Saturday Vigil Mass, and I saw a murder in progress, a huge raven was attacking a small and friendly Black-Snake, Rat-Snake, Bull-Snake, Eastern Racer, whatever name you have. These guys have no poison, no fangs, if they bite it doesn’t hurt. Super-friendly.

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The raven didn’t want to give up. I almost had to physically remove him, but he finally flew away and then around, squawking and scolding at me the whole time. He was not happy with me at all. Meanwhile, I gently let the snake slither away into the parking lot bushes. I was happy for the snake. The ol’ raven can get another meal somewhere else. I want Rat-Snakes around as one of my neighbors has rats. The bank is in eye-shot of the rectory. Be as clever as a snake in making friends with unexpectedly helpful people. But be as innocent as a dove. Monsters might attack you. But you might get help from an unexpected source. Note the background picture of the blog and the header picture.

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Shadow-Dog pooped a Timber Rattler

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Ho-hum. Looking out the kitchen window this morning I see that Shadow-dog just pooped out a full size Timber Rattlesnake. Markings. Fat body. Relatively short tail. Ultra-fat head with fangs. Wikipedia says that “Potentially, this is one of North America’s most dangerous snakes, due to its long fangs, impressive size, and high venom yield.” They warn with lots of antics, but I think that only makes Shadow-dog’s adrenaline pump all the more. Sorry that this next photo didn’t focus, but this is the decapitated head:

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Out of focus or not, that’s good enough for me. All very poopy.

Not to worry. I looked it up. Dogs eating venomous snakes for breakfast doesn’t hurt them in the least. :-) Shadow-dog was simply content with a good snack.

It’s been raining and raining and raining after snowing and snowing and snowing. The back yard is a bit of a mess. I’m planning on extending the fence and planting lots of grass seed. Meanwhile, don’t feel sorry for wet and muddy Shadow-dog. He has a warm dry shelter out of the weather tucked far back under the non-mud-cement-patio corrugated roof. Also, he comes in for most of the night. You just have to know that a GSD loves water and mud. He’s been expanding his mud holes with water in them just for fun. I don’t mind. I did that as a kid. Why not?

Anyway, a thought came to mind. You can see how there is zero shelter, zero hiding places for a snake, particular a Timber Rattler which stays in, well, you know, the timber, the forest. We’re in the middle of a city. How is it that that Rattler would insist on being inside that fence line slithering immediately right into the jaws of Shadow-dog, who, by the way, wouldn’t be hidden. It just doesn’t make sense. Ain’t gonna happen if you ask me. The snake, on its own, would zip away. Poor snake. Maybe he was thrown in while I was on my day off. If that’s the case, the result is the following:

  • One proud and brave Shadow-dog.
  • One now impressed but scared snake-handler.

Analogy:

  • Just when people think they “have you”, you come out stronger for it, more character, a broader foundation of experience from which to proceed, with Jesus, of course. Hah.
  • Just when the devil thinks he “has you”, you come out stronger for it, more character, a broader foundation of experience from which to proceed, with Jesus, of course. Hah.
  • Just when your fallen human nature thinks it has won, you come out stronger for it, more character, a broader foundation of experience from which to proceed, with Jesus, of course. Hah.

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Diet: “Hey! It tastes like chicken!”

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This guy has a triangular head and a short tail and is about four feet long. Here’s a shot of his underside, providing you with some clues. What kind is he?

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He wasn’t far from the hermitage the other day and I was trying to do some last minute clean out before the property is sold by the neighbor. Anyway, I’m sure he tastes like chicken!

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It’s definitive: the dreaded serpent

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This is a common brown snake, otherwise known as a city snake, a garden snail eater of all things, which I picked up in the back yard of the rectory. Sigh. This is the dreaded serpent because, well, it’s definitive then. I’m no longer a mountain hermit. I’m domesticated, a city slicker. Sigh. Oh, for the days in the hermitage with timber rattlers and water moccasins and copper heads and whatnot, where even the rat snakes and Eastern Racers got six feet long and over. But here in the city the snakes are all measured in inches. Sigh. And what’s worse, I’m even busy with Spring cleaning. Sigh. I’m so domesticated. It all just makes me long for the days of my youth with extreme sports knuckleheadism. But, O.K. I’m domesticated. So be it. Heaven will be different! O.K., maybe I should make something of this, like an encouragement, gentle as it is, to get to my popular version of the thesis on Genesis 3:15, you know, about the crushing of the serpent on the head, something like that.

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