Fr. Christopher Popravak, Provincial Minister, writes Thanksgiving Greeting to Poor Clare Sisters and Capuchin Franciscan Friars
Praise be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Thanksgiving! Recently Pope Francis said to the Poor Clare Sisters in Assisi: It makes me sad when I see Sisters who are not joyful. Perhaps they smile, but with the smile of a flight attendant. But not with the smile of joy, of that which comes from within, always with Jesus Christ.[1] I love that image, the smile of a flight attendant! Pope Francis is calling Sisters and all religious to be genuinely human. Cloistered Sisters are called to have great humanity, a humanity like that of Mother Church, human, understanding all things of life, being persons who are able to understand human problems, who are able to forgive, who are able to pray to the Lord for people. Rightly, our Holy Father links our humanity to the humanity of Jesus. “Always with Jesus Christ,” is his repeated refrain. Some individuals incorrectly ask people to accept them “as they are.” After all, they’re only human. We Christians, however, must never forget that while we are a flawed, sinful people, God wants more for us. He has shown us what true humanity is all about: living the life of His Son. How does this transformation, this becoming truly human happen? Through contemplation! I said in the Mass today that Francis contemplated [Jesus Christ] with open eyes, with open wounds, with the blood that ran down. And this is your contemplation: reality – the reality of Jesus Christ. Not abstract ideas, because they dry the head. Contemplation of the wounds of Jesus Christ! And it carried him to Heaven, it did! It is the way of the humanity of Jesus Christ: always with Jesus, the God-Man. We discover our true humanity by contemplating the humanity of God’s Son. Brothers and sisters, this Thanksgiving, let us thank God for the gift of our human lives. Each of us has heard a call from God. Each of us is trying to respond with our whole selves to the vision God has for us. This is our personal salvation history. On her deathbed St. Clare of Assisi was heard to say: “Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.” How moving a sense of gratitude for the gift of her life! How clear a recognition of the gracious God who was at work in her life’s story! I pray that we all can say this Thanksgiving: “Blessed be you, my God, for having created me!” Thank you, God, for our humanity! Your brother, Christopher

[1] Translation by Zenit,
Fr. Christopher, bottom right, is currently visiting Capuchin Franciscan missionaries in Papua New Guinea Fr. Christopher, bottom right, is currently visiting Capuchin Franciscan missionaries in Papua New Guinea