He also advised them to keep prayer to the Holy Spirit at the center of their mission, so that prayer "may not be reduced to a mere formality in our meetings and homilies."
"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," he said. "If, in some cases, missionary fervor is fading, it is a sign that faith itself is fading."
In such cases, he continued, "strategies and speeches" will not be effective.
"Asking the Lord to open hearts to the Gospel and asking everyone to tangibly support missionary work: these are simple and practical things that everyone can readily do…"
The pope also emphasized the importance of taking care of the poor. There is no excuse, he said: "For the Church, a preference for the poor is not optional."
On the topic of donations, Francis told the societies not to put their trust in bigger and better fundraising systems. If they are dismayed by a diminishing collection plate, they should place that pain in the hands of the Lord.
The missions should avoid becoming like NGOs, with their focus on funding, he said. They should look to all baptized people for offerings, recognizing Jesus' consolation at even "the widow's mite."
Francis argued that the funds they do receive should be used to advance the Church's mission and to support essential and objective needs of communities, "without squandering resources in initiatives marked by abstraction, self-absorption or generated by clerical narcissism."
"Do not yield to inferiority complexes or the temptation to imitate those super-functional organizations that collect funds for good causes and then use a good percentage of them to finance their own bureaucracy and to publicize their brand name," he advised.
"A missionary heart recognizes the real condition of real people, with their own limits, sins and frailties in order to become 'weak among the weak,'" the pope encouraged.
"Sometimes this means slowing our pace in order to lead a person who is still by the wayside. At times this means imitating the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who leaves the doors open and looks out each day awaiting the return of his son."
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