Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) - “'Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends'. In the history of the Church, many men and women have heeded the call of this great love. The Swiss Guards who fought during the Sack of Rome and who gave their lives in defence of the Pope responded to this call. And answering this call with devotion means following Christ”, said the Holy Father as he received in audience the new recruits to the Pontifical Swiss Guard who will take their oath of loyalty tomorrow, 6 May.
“In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who in his youth was a soldier, spoke of the 'call of the Christ the King', who wishes to build His Kingdom and choose his collaborators. The Lord wishes to build His Kingdom with the collaboration of men. He needs decisive and courageous people. … At the same time, Ignatius compares the world to two military camps, one with the standard of Christ, the other under the flag of Satan. There are only these two camps. For the Christian the choice is clear: he follows Christ's standard”.
“Christ is the true King. He Himself goes ahead and His friends follow Him. One of Christ's soldiers participates in the life of His Lord. This is also the call that is addressed to you: to take on the concerns of Christ, to be His companions. In this way you learn, day by day, to 'feel' with Christ and with the Church. A Swiss Guard is a person who truly seeks to follow the Lord Jesus and who loves the Church in a special way; he is a Christian with genuine faith”, emphasised the Pontiff. “You too, like every Christian, must live all this through the Sacraments of the Church: with diligent participation in Mass and frequent Confession. You can live this by reading the Gospel every day. What I say to all, I repeat to you: keep a pocket-sized Gospel close to hand, so you can read it whenever you have a free moment. Your personal prayer, especially the Rosary, will also help you, during your guards of honour. And it will help you in your service to the poor, the sick, to those in need of a good word”.
The Pope remarked that when the Swiss Guards meet people and pilgrims they transmit to them, with their “kindness and competence”, this “great love” that comes from their friendship with Christ. Indeed”, he exclaimed, “you are a banner for the Holy See! I thank you and encourage you in your work”.
“I know that your service is demanding. When there is extra work to be done, we are always able to count on the Swiss Guard. I thank you with affection and express my great appreciation for all that you do for the Church and for me, as the Successor of Peter”, he concluded.