Vermilion Fly Catcher

I love all God’s creatures!  Well, possibly with the exception of spiders and feral hogs; although I must admit that the little piglets are cute.

I love birds.  Every winter for the past five years it has been a source of delight for me that a lone Vermillion Fly-Catcher has returned to Rancho Milagro and taken up residence by the duck pond where he/she darts skyward to snare an insect repeatedly throughout the day. He is beautiful to see and fascinating to watch his aerial aerobatics.

I started the duck pond in 1997.  It is small, about 50 feet in diameter.  Water trickles into it by gravity flow from my well water storage tank; just enough flow to compensate for evaporation.  I built a fence around it to keep animals out, but, of course, the fence does not prevent owls and hawks from predation.

I started with four pair of Mallard ducklings I ordered from a hatchery.  Over the course of that first year one by one winged predators took their toll.  Finally I was left with only one male duck.  He hung around for several months and then one day he disappeared and I assumed that a hawk or an owl had taken him also.

But I was wrong!  He was gone about a month and then one day he reappeared with a wild female companion.  The pair seemed happily in permanent residence on the pond.  And then one day the male disappeared.  I can only assume that an owl or a hawk took him.  Then, even more amazing, the wild female remained on the pond even without a mate.

After a month of expecting the wild female to fly away I decided to buy her a mate.  I located a man who had ducks and I bought a domesticated male Mallard and introduced him to the pond.

I am happy to report that they produced eleven little ducklings and now there are 13 Mallards.  In addition, from time to time Teel, Black-bellied Mexican Whistling ducks and Coot drop in for a visit and stay for weeks at a time.


GLORY be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

–  Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).  Poems.  1918.

Pied Beauty

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in HAPPINESS, JESUS CHRIST, LORD AND CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. anselmusjmj says:

    Abyssum, thank you for these personal reflections… they reveal very much about your appreciation for God’s Creation, they reveal very much about your connection to the God of Nature. God tells us so many things via nature and creation, Thank you !


  2. Curt Stoller says:

    There is a profound theology behind our love for creatures, one that is seldom appreciated by many Christians. The God of Christianity is not a philosophical Absolute who must leech out the reality of things different from himself in order to be Divine. His existence doesn’t require Him to be the being of everything (esse omnium) as in pantheism. Pantheism which seems so attractive to so many liberals actually requires a deity that dissolves all other beings like a mist in its sunlight. These other beings are mere illusions behind which the pantheist absolute hides. In that sense, pantheism involves an implicit hatred of creation. Liberal Christians attracted to pantheism fail to notice this. Creation for these thinkers becomes a veil that must be torn away in an act of enlightenment.

    All of this is alien to Christianity. In Christianity, one cannot love God unless one loves the God Who is the Creator of Heaven and Earth; the God Who loves the finite, the relative, the contingent, the historical, the little. God does not need to draw His being from the little. He creates the little ex nihilo out of pure love. And He became little. Let no one say that these are mere metaphysical expressions of no importance to Christian spirituality. We are not called simply to love God in a Platonic, Aristotelian sense. We are not called to love the Absolute of German idealism. While such a religion appeals to many liberals, it isn’t Christianity. While it is true that all perfections exist supereminently in God’s Divine Ideas, the full truth is that God wills the pluralistic world of little sparrows to exist. All things are little to God’s Infinity. But the Infinite God loves all little things! So to be a pantheist is both an idolatry and a blasphemy of the true God.

    We often think of laws in the juridical sense. We have the Ten Commandments. We have the various civil laws. But law has a deeper theological meaning. A law is whatever God wills. And God wills individuals. God wills that you exist and in that sense you participate in what it means to be a law. You are a kind of law. God does not just will universals. God wills individuals. And those individuals are laws too. This is the basis of the dignity and inviolability of persons. This is something that is missing from the Institutes of Justinian when he divides everything into persons and things. God will things too even though they of a lower order than persons. But persons are the images of God and are laws in the proper sense of the term. And that applies to the unborn fetus. A person cannot be murdered any more than a Divine Law can be erased. In killing the unborn, one is murdering one of God’s laws just as surely as if one tried to destroy every copy of the Ten Commandments. The attempt to murder one of God’s laws is implicitly an attempt to murder God Himself. When one murders the unborn person one is murdering a law that God intends to exist in this world. Something God created and intends to exist on earth is destroyed by human agency. This is why murder is so serious. Recall the story of Cain and Abel. There is a Jewish story about Cain and Abel. I think it is from the Talmud. It says that not only did Cain murder Abel, but Cain murdered all the progeny that God intended to exist through able. Cain did not murder one man. Cain murdered half of humanity!!!

    One must honor the world as something willed and loved by God and therefore a true reverence for life does not entail pantheism or a hatred of mankind as many environmentalists wrongly believe. One can love the little sparrow as St. Francis of Assisi did. And St. Francis cannot be the saint of pantheism or German idealism. St. Francis is Catholic through and through!

    Christian flight from the world is actually not a rejection of matter or the goodness of creatures. It is actually just the first step towards God. Serving the world God created is a second step. And perhaps the third is the finding of all creatures of God in God Himself. Sadly, ordinary Catholic piety often begins and ends by viewing God as one more reality beside many others. Christian piety often lags behind the implications of the Incarnation. The Incarnation puts the last nail in the coffin of all forms of pantheism and all forms of Manicheanism!

  3. Ignatius Martinus says:

    Abyssum, bless you! The Lord has blessed you with a place out in the country where you can “get away” from the hustle of the city. What a wonderful gift and blessing to have! I hope that you continue to enjoy the peace and quiet of your ranch, and enjoy the beauty of creation. God’s blessings be yours.

    – Ignatius

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