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Opinion: Advent means waiting, suffering with hope

Missy Enaje reflects on how the Christmas season invites us to joy in the face of suffering and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promises of God.

"Holy Family II" (Janet McKenzie)

A running daily joke I had with a former intern was that we would both listen to the biography of the “Saint of the Day” according to the Catholic calendar, always anticipating whether the saint died through an unimaginable form of torture or rather a peaceful death.

It turns out that the cycle of pain and suffering was inevitable. We would rejoice on the rare occasions when a saint or Blessed did in fact die of old age, or without some form of hierarch-ordered violence.

But what message best resonates with us as a Church during a time when we are bombarded with so many messages of the so-called Prosperity Gospel, which wants us to think that life is only good when we have comfort and a surplus of material things equated with “blessings”?

God asks us to depend on him, like the Gospel of Matthew says, because he will provide us with food and drink the same way he provides for every other living thing on earth—which, unlike us, doesn't burn the midnight oil trying to meet a deadline or answer another email.

God wants to remind us: “Are you not more important?”

In so doing, he provides.

This Advent season, we are asked to wait for Emmanuel. Wait for him while we wait for peace, mercy, and justice to be the ringing truth in our country. Wait for him while we weep for the lives of children lost to the glorification of guns. Wait for him while we wait for the canonization of the six African-American saints. Wait for him while migrants and refugees flee.

Wait for him because he joins us in our suffering so that we will never be alone. Suffering seems to be a theme since the beginning of the Church, tried and testified through the lives of the saints. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

We wait for the day Love rules the land and until then, we must never lose infinite hope in the moment the Word became flesh—even as we accept the finite disappointments this life brings.


Missy Enaje is a digital/newspaper reporter and youth editor based in Brooklyn, New York. She has filed international stories covering World Youth Day, the Steubenville Conferences, and the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns Ambassadors in Puerto Rico.


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