FOR YOUR STUDY - RAKING LEAVES by Joe Vella, Sr., Trenton 67

Editor's Note: Joe gave the "Study" talk on my weekend, Trenton 71. I will never forget that talk and Joe. 

Raking Leaves

Now that my wife has taken up residence with the Lord, I live with my daughter Barbara and son in law. Allan. They have a large piece of property and I have become the self appointed groundskeeper. With twenty four giant oak trees on the premises raking leaves in the Fall is a gargantuan project. You might say I'm the 'fall guy'.

Raking has afforded me the opportunity to mourn, pray, and reminisce, while all the time raking leaves. I pander to a little amusement, “I'm finally 'big time now' I'm really raking it in.” Yes I pray, why not I have the occasion? While partnered with nature I am inclined to the natural, the supernatural and unexpected, But I ask a contemporary question like should I be wearing my “Life Alert”? I see the birds and for no solid reason old phrases come to mind. “Birds of a feather flock together”. I muse birds are smarter than humans; they fly south for the winter! Then, “He who hesitates fails”, yeah, but he gets another crack at it! Questions come to mind. why is it now that I'm very old I've begun to boast about it?

I'm asked if“the road in my life was bumpy”? My retort is, “I remember when the roads were cobblestones.” Another question is, “How far back can you remember”? Response: “I remember when Charles Lindberg flew across the Atlantic Ocean”. We sang: “Lucky Lindyup in the sky, lucky Lindy flying so high”.

Ah yes, back to the leaves; they hover, drift and float earthward. They resemble dangling feathers until they are jostled by the wind. As the velocity of the wind increased the brightly colored floaters are remodeled to angry swirling frenzied missiles. I meditate ….....the leaves transition from tender life eager buds of Spring time to radiant colored, but lifelessness in Autumn. I envisage the rabbits,squirrels and deer that share the terrain and conclude that Providence provided me this opportunity to reflect. I have really,finally become “old”. Raking leaves was granting me the time to adjust to this unfamiliar status. What disturbs me the the realization that I have become irrelevant.

These innocent looking leaves are not as simplistic as they may appear. To execute its role the leaf must contain chlorophyll, pigments and carbon dioxide to create oxygen. Have water and provide carbohydrate to the the tree.What a contradiction that these unpretentious appearing leaves should possess such complexity. Now having their energy spent all I discern is discarded falling leaves. But, a melody begins running through my mind......”The leaves of brown came tumbling down, remember in September, that September in the rain.” Which triggered, “It ain't gonna rain no more no more, It ain't gonna rain no more. How in the heck am I gonna wash my neck? When it ain’t gonna rain no more.” Then “Barney google, with the goo goo googly eyes” Old fashioned gems, they just don't write songs like those anymore!

The cessation of human life generally doesn’t end like that of a spent leaf. Our life's end is accompanied with visitations, flowers, religious ceremony and topped off with a delicious repast. Reasoning nudged my mind into restfulness.

The end time for man and vegetation is not identical, the leafs conclusion is at the end of the year, when they begin to fall. Newleaves will return, but man shakes hands with eternity. Quizzical isn't it that sober, uncomfortable thoughts like the finalresting-places of the aged, and their spirit is brought to mind while raking leaves?

At summers end the clouds thicken yet the sun determinedly penetrates. The grisly raised his furry head and sniffed the air sensing theapproach of winter and hibernation. I too incline my head and mind. My senses sniff arrival of sunless, leafless harsh inevitable winter. The leaves are so light that they sidle on their decent. The comparison of an inhospitable winter is incongruous with the friendliness which prevails during the raking of leaves.

I perceive nothing audible, unless leaves floating are audible. The swishing of wings from birds winging by produce something slightly audible. However, no man, as pragmatic as he pro-ports to be,........ relies on organisms........ he puts his trust upon his revered non audible silent prayers. The leaves are hardly heard, but they are heard to the same extent men are heard , when they gently alight to their final resting place.

Raise up your gaze and witness leaves falling in meek surrender to destiny. A pageantry of color, red, yellow and brown, an unusual combination! The recognition of life waning intrudes on my thoughts. The trees are relinquishing their memories. The spring when it comes will replenish the leaves, but not restore those rich and abundant recollections of what was taken for granted. It is in such a state of mind of reproduction and of accomplishment that the dead leaves fall. The profoundness and substance of such genesis are beyond my limitations. Yet I am aware that each leaf is distinct and so are we. And all this from raking leaves?

It is curious, that at this distinct time of the year while raking leaves Providence has allowed me to to inquisitively contemplate the relationship between nature and humankind.

Some conclusions remained unsubstantiated, but the subject of destiny was explored.

These self observations are appropriate at autumn time, most pensive mortals perceive them. The air is noticeably different and yet the same; the morning hints of a gradual turnover heralding subtle messages of a waning irretrievable span of time.

The evenings kindle thoughts of family, sweetheart, contentment, and the comfort of home. The musing acting like a stimulus quickening the mingling with human sensitivities and prepare me for a greater glory.

It is in this setting that at the arrival of autumn, that Divine doctrine has deposited itself. A sentinel poised at the gate of the season, the guardian; and at its close the day I rejoice. I am assured of this: the Prince of Darkness grieves when I am raking leaves.  


Offered by Loyola Press, Sunday Connection offers background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings.

It can be found at

Thanks to Matt Oleynick for sharing this link. 

FOR YOUR STUDY: ALL SAINTS AND ALL SOULS by Deacon Tony Martucci, Deacon Spiritual Advisor

In Ireland, Father Kelly addressed his congregation one Sunday: “If you want to go to heaven, stand up. Slowly, one by one people began to stand. One man remained seated. Father Kelly said, “Reilly, do you mean to sit there and tell me you don’t want to go to heaven?” “Oh, no, Father. I thought you were leaving right away.”

“Everyone sit down,” continued Fr. Kelly. “Anyone who wants to go to hell stand up.” Very slowly, Reilly rose in the pew. “Reilly, now I know you’re daft,” said Father Kelly. “You mean to stand there and tell me you want to go to hell?” “Oh no, Father, but you looked so lonely standing by yerself.”

…. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there.

All life is precious: whether in the womb, in illness, or at old age. It doesn’t matter to God what our contribution to society may be. All of us are created in the image of God with an immortal soul. Our destiny is to know and love God and to live a life worthy of Him. Christ came to earth to show us the way to the Father, to teach us how to live and to die for our sins. By our baptism, you and I are born into the life of Christ and we are called to follow His example.

A popular expression today is YOLO, you only live once, but we know there is life after death. Eternal Life is a gift of God. After death, our souls continue and are rewarded or punished for the way we lived; one day our bodies will be resurrected to share in our souls’ reward. Faith in Christ is important, but we must also put that faith into action. Christ once said, “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will be saved, but only those who do the will of My Father.”

This month we celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ and we remember our loved ones who have died. We like to think of them as going to directly to heaven, yet we know that they were not perfect. Christ said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” The Catholic Church teaches that there is a state of being called Purgatory for those souls who have lived a good Christian life, but are not perfect. They can no longer pray for themselves, but they do offer prayers for their families and friends left behind. In turn, you and I pray for them, we light candles and have Masses said for them. Most churches remember them in all Masses this month.

There is a spiritual connection between them and us. Our love for one another continues even after death. This is what the Church means by the Communion of Saints.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says:

“The Communion of Saints is a Catholic doctrine that holds that the Body of Christ is ‘the spiritual union which joins together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heave’ in the organic union [Mystical Body] with Christ as its head and in a constant exchange of supernatural offices [offering prayers and acts of sacrifice for one another]. “

The Saints Triumphant- are those souls who are in Heaven (canonized and not canonized, e.g. Saints Peter, Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and Elizabeth). We ask the saints to intercede for us. We often pray to the saints to intercede for our needs- lost keys, our children’s safety, etc. The saints in turn pray to God on our behalf.

As I mentioned, The Saints Suffering- are the souls in purgatory. We pray for our loved ones who have died, asking for the forgiveness of their sins, and for their salvation. In turn, those souls pray for us, their loved ones left behind.

We are The Saints Militant- who try to live lives of grace and to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. Within the Church on earth, there is a shared exchange of examples and prayers. Between the Church on earth on one hand and purgatory and heaven on the other, there are works of charity, prayers, intercessions and adorations.”

All of us living and dead cooperate with each other for the glory of God and to bring God’s kingdom here and now and to enjoy God’s presence in heaven.

In November, we celebrated the Feast of ALL SAINTS. Do you personally know any saints? Are YOU a Saint? Yes, you are. You are part of the Church Militant. When I was growing up, I learned about the Communion of Saints, and in the Apostles Creed we say, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.”

As you well know, our struggle to bring about the Kingdom of God is not against mere flesh and blood, but against Satan and his fallen angels who want to increase their numbers by leading as many people away from God as possible.

The Church is like a great ship, bombarded and attacked by enemy vessels surrounding it- the media, materialism, Godless-government, secularism, and immorality, to name just a few.

A great battle is raging. The ship is damaged, but continues on its course. Nothing could be truer as, by the Holy Spirit, the course of the Church has been steadfast in these troubling days. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Nothing will deter the truth. The Church…intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of state and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses.” Vatican Mar. 20, 2006

As members of the Church Militant, you and I need to take our place in the battle to win souls for Christ and to change our world into His Kingdom.


We KNOW the power of prayer. Our world is in a terrible state. We have not seen such immorality or chaos since the fall of Rome. Some tell us that we are living in the end times. Jesus once asked, “When the Son of Man comes again, will He find any faith on the earth?” Only you and I can answer that question.

Time after time, in each of the appearances of the Blessed Mother, she begs us to pray for peace, for forgiveness, for mercy. “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.” On Ash Wednesday, we will hear the words, “Turn away from sin, be faithful to the Gospel.”

We know that Jesus has already won the victory. We have to bring as many of our friends, family and neighbors with us as we possibly can. Let us promise that each of us will PRAY and FAST with the Communion of Saints to win our struggle against the forces of evil and to bring about the Kingdom of God.


Upcoming Retreat:

Everyone is invited to our next diocesan Mass which will be held Friday Dec 5 at San Alfonso Retreat house.  Following the Mass and fellowship our retreat will start that evening and finish on Sunday Dec 7th.  The cost of the retreat will be $150.  The retreat will include talks by Fr. Ed, Sister Simon and Deacon Tony, along with reflection and private time. More information about San Alfonso's can be found at

If you would like to attend, you can let your ultreya leader know or send an email to us at  

National Encounter in Philadelphia 2015:

The next National Encounter will be held July 23-25, 2015 at Villanova University, outside of Philadelphia.  Region 2 will be very involved in the planning and all the lay directors of the region are asking the cursillistas in their diocese to consider volunteering at the encounter, as a matter of fact Jacquelyn DeMesme-Gray, Region II Coordinator has been asked to be the committee chair. More information about the encounter and what committees will need volunteers is coming soon.  Jackie has asked for a list from the lay directors by December 1st so please pray about it and step out with faith and joy to be part of this encounter.  


Copyright 2000 - 2024, Cursillo Movement of the Diocese of Trenton, a non-profit organization. Images, sounds, and text contained are for non-commercial use only. Each item is the property of their respective owners. No challenge to their ownership is implied in any way. This page is the sole responsibility of the Cursillo Movement of the Diocese of Trenton. Material contained within may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the Cursillo Movement of the Diocese of Trenton. Please direct any inquiries to

MCC Trenton - Movimiento de Cursillos de Christiandad de Trenton