Pope's Address to New Swiss Guards

«In order to show love to ones brethren, it is necessary to draw it from the furnace of divine charity»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received in audience the 26 new Swiss Guards who on Sunday took their oaths at their swearing-in ceremony.

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Lord Commandant,

Reverend Chaplain,

Dear Officers and Members of the Swiss Guard,

Distinguished Guests,

Dear brothers and sisters!

I wish to extend my cordial greetings to you all.  In particular, I wish to welcome the recruits, who today are surrounded by their parents, relatives and friends; I also wish to welcome representatives of the Swiss Civil Authority, who have come for this joyous occasion. You, dear Guards, have the privilege of working for several years in the heart of Christianity and of living in the “Eternal City.” Your family and loved ones, and all who have wished to share with you in these festive days, have combined their participation in the swearing-in ceremony with a pilgrimage to the Tombs of the Apostles. It is my hope that, here in Rome, all of you will have a unique experience of the universality of the Church and a strengthening and deepening of faith, especially through moments of prayer and through the meetings that characterize these days.

The roles that the Swiss Guard carries out constitute a direct service to the Supreme Pontiff and to the Apostolic See. The fact that young men choose to consecrate several years of their lives in total availability to the Successor of Peter and to his co-workers is therefore reason for deep appreciation. Your work follows the path of an unquestioned fidelity to the Pope, which became heroic during the “Sack of Rome” of 1527, when on the 6th of May your predecessors sacrificed their lives. The Swiss Guard special service could not have been accomplished then, nor could it be accomplished today in the absence of those features that distinguish every component of the Corps: steadfastness in the Catholic faith, fidelity and love for the Church of Jesus Christ, diligence and perseverance in daily tasks small and great, courage and humility, altruism and availability. These virtues must fill your hearts as you lend your service of honor and security at the Vatican.

Be attentive to one another, in order to support one another in daily work and to edify one another; and preserve a manner of evangelical charity toward those with whom you come in contact each day. In sacred Scripture, the call to the love of neighbor is tied to the commandment to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s strength (cf. Mark 12:29-31). In order to show love to one’s brethren, it is necessary to draw it from the furnace of divine charity, thanks to prolonged periods of prayer, to constant listening to the Word of God, and to a life wholly centered on the mystery of the Eucharist.

The secret efficacy of your work here in the Vatican, as well as of your every endeavor, is therefore constant reference to Christ. This is also the witness of not a few of your predecessors, who distinguished themselves not only by the manner in which they carried out their work, but also by their commitment to living a Christian life. Some were called to follow the Lord along the way of the priesthood and the consecrated life, and they responded with promptness and enthusiasm. Others have happily crowned a vocation to the married life with the Sacrament of Matrimony. I give thanks to God, the source of all good, for the various gifts and missions he entrusts to you, and I pray that you, too, who are now beginning your service, may respond fully to the call of Christ by following him with faithful generosity.

Dear friends! Profit by the time you spend here in Rome to grow in friendship with Christ, to increasingly love his Church and to advance toward the goal of every true Christian life: holiness.

May the Virgin Mary, whom we honor in a special way during the month of May, help you to experience ever more each day that profound communion with God, which for we who believe begins on earth and will be brought to completion in Heaven. We are called, in fact, as St. Paul reminds us, to be “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). With these sentiments, I assure you of my constant remembrance of you in prayer and I warmly impart to each one of you the Apostolic Blessing.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]
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