Francis' message to the Pontifical missionary societies which " are and must be experienced as an instrument of service for the mission of the particular Churches, against the backdrop of the mission of the universal Church". "Missionary ervour ever be obtained as the result of reasoning or calculation."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In the decision to announce Jesus to those who do not know him "there are many things to do", but always with the awareness that the results do not depend on the application of "worldly systems and to secular notions of activism or technical-professional competence", but by the action of the Holy Spirit, in which we must trust and which we must trust.
Pope Francis has sent a message to the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) published today on the Feast of the Ascension, when their general assembly was to have opened, now canceled due to the pandemic. It is a long and articulated document in which Francis indicates the soul, objectives, "pitfalls" to avoid and instruments to use in missionary works.
The Pope recalls, first of all, that the Church is "the work of the Holy Spirit and not a consequence of our reflections and intentions". Recognizing that "it is the Spirit that ignites and preserves the faith in our hearts, everything changes " giving genetic connotations, particular emphasis and movements, makes the announcement of the Gospel "something different from all political, cultural, psychological or religious forms of proselytism”.
This gives the mission of the Church some "distinctive traits". " The mystery of the Redemption entered into and continues to work in the world through an attraction that can draw the hearts of men and women because it is and appears more alluring than the seductions which appeal to the selfishness that is a result of sin. ".
Gratitude: “Nor can missionary fervour ever be obtained as the result of reasoning or calculation. To be “in a state of mission” is a reflection of gratitude." “Only in the freedom of gratitude can one truly know the Lord, whereas it is useless and above all improper to insist on presenting missionary activity and the proclamation of the Gospel as if they were a binding duty, a kind of “contractual obligation” on the part of the baptized".
The Church, Francis then writes, “s not a customs office and anyone who participates in the mission of the Church is called not to impose unnecessary burdens on people already worn out or to require demanding programmes of formation in order to enjoy what the Lord gives easily."
It is also a question of being "close" to people's current lives. " Especially given the times in which we live, this has nothing to do with designing “specialized” training programmes, creating parallel worlds, or constructing “slogans” that merely echo our own thoughts and concerns". It should be remembered, however, that "as a kind of “feel” for the Holy Spirit and his workings. It is the People of God, called and loved by Jesus,", who" gathered together and anointed by the Lord, by virtue of this anointing is made infallible "in believing". "
Remembering the necessary attention for the poor, the document examines the necessary "genetic" traits of missionary works. He recalls that they are always born spontaneously from the prayer and charity of the people of God.
Born as " an instrument of service in support of the particular Churches in the work of proclaiming the Gospel", the PMS "since their first diffusion, have been structured as a s a widespread networkspread throughout the People of God, “and anchored to the pre-existing ecclesial institutions. They are therefore a service to communion and in their diffusion in the different realities of the world "the mystery of the universality of the Church, in which the incessant work of the Holy Spirit creates harmony from different voices, even as the Bishop of Rome, in his service of charity, exercised also through the Pontifical Mission Societies, safeguards unity in faith.”
The "genetic" characteristics of the PMS must serve to avoid some "pitfalls" starting from that " Self-absorption " for which ecclesiastical organizations and entities " sometimes end up turning in on themselves, devoting energy and attention primarily to promoting themselves and to advertising their own initiatives,” while" others seem dominated by the obsession to continually redefine their relevance and spaces within the Church ".
Similar considerations for "pitfalls" such as control anxiety and elitism and isolation from the people of God " viewed as an inert mass, always in need of being awakened and mobilized through a “consciousness-raising” consisting in arguments, appeals and teachings. As if the certainty of faith was the consequence of persuasive speech or training methods."
At this point the message offers "recommendations for the Journey".
The first is to "preserve or recover the role of the PMS as part of the larger People of God from which they arose". "One must provide answers to real questions and not just formulate and multiply proposals."
The second "advice" is to proceed “in such a way that the essential structure of the PMS remains bound to the practice of prayer and of gathering resources for mission, in all its simplicity and practicality. This would clearly demonstrate the relationship of the PMS to the faith of the People of God."
The PMS, then "must be experienced as an instrument of service for the mission of the particular Churches, against the backdrop of the mission of the universal Church ". And, " in your prayer ask above all that the Lord make everyone better prepared to recognize the signs of his activity, in order then to reveal them to the whole world ". " It is not helpful to theorize about super-strategies or mission “core guidelines” as a means of reviving missionary spirit or giving missionary patents to others". If, in some cases, missionary fervor is fading, it is a sign that faith itself is fading. In such cases, the attempt to revive the flame by strategies and speeches will end up only weakening it all the more, causing the desert to expand".
The PMS service, then, meets situations and realities from all over the world. "This is why yours is a work that should never be 'sterilized' in an exclusively bureaucratic-professional dimension. There cannot be bureaucrats or mission officials. " And "don't waste too much time and resources on 'looking at yourself', on developing self-centered plans on the internal mechanisms, functionality and skills of your equipment. Look out, don't look in the mirror. "
Remembered that in the collection of economic resources, "the Church has always continued to move forward thanks to the widow's donation", "always take into account the real primary needs of the communities, and at the same time avoid forms of welfare, which instead of offering tools to missionary fervor end up warming hearts and also nurturing parasitic clientelism in the Church ". And without ever forgetting Jesus' predilection for the poor.
“Move forward with enthusiasm! - is the conclusion of the message - There is much to do on the journey that awaits you. If there are changes to make in procedures, it is good that these point towards unburdening rather than increasing the load, aiming at operational flexibility and not producing more rigid bureaucracies that involve the threat of introversion. An excessive centralization, rather than helping, can complicate missionary outreach. Even a purely national organization of initiatives can jeopardize the nature of the PMS network, as well as the exchange of gifts between the Churches and local communities lived as the tangible fruit and sign of charity among brothers and sisters in communion with the Bishop of Rome."
"In any event, always demand that every consideration regarding the operational aspect of the PMS be illuminated by the one thing necessary: a spark of true love for the Church as a reflection of love for Christ." (FP)