Msgr. Joseph M. Corley

“Will this be my last Advent?” I ask myself that question every December. I know I should be anticipating the second and first coming of Christ, but something in my Irish DNA pushes my button for dread and I begin wondering when “it” will be over for me on earth.

Flannery O’Conner believed our hearts were either “Christ centered or Christ haunted.” During Advent I try to make room in the center of my heart for the Lord, but I am sometimes haunted with memories of past regrets and missed opportunities.

When considering my “it,” I find salvation in two unexpected and redeeming attitudes.


First, knowing that being in the sunset of life, I escape fear by staying awake. I look for the joy, hope, new life, sense of wonder, gratitude and excitement linked to the Birth of Christ.

Being conscious of “it” makes me appreciate the simple pleasures of life: good food, a warm shower, a movie, a joke, conversation, music, or the memory of the presence of grace in my life.

Second, the thought of meeting St. Peter when I am not ready, willing, or prepared makes me pay more attention to people I see often: friends, family, staff, those who have loved me, encouraged, inspired, corrected and forgiven me.

Christmas is coming (again). This year I want my heart to be less concerned about “it” and more centered on becoming like the One who is always with and saves us.


Msgr. Joseph M. Corley is pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Darby.