In audience with new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, Pope Francis said that throughout history, the guards have answered Christ’s call “to lay down his life for his friends.”
The new recruits will be sworn in tomorrow at a ceremony in the Vatican.
“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 defense of the Pope responded to this call. And answering this call with devotion means following Christ,” the Pope said to them.
Making reference to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Holy Father said that Jesus wishes to build his kingdom with the collaboration of “decisive and courageous people”. Christians are called to follow “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,” he said.
The Pope called on the Swiss Guard to be companions of Christ and to follow Him, in order to become Christians “with a genuine faith.”
“You too, like every Christian, must live all this through the Sacraments of the Church: with diligent participation in Mass and frequent Confession,” he said.
Repeating the advice that he gives to the faithful, the 78 year old Pontiff suggested that they carry with them a pocket-sized Gospel and to read it whenever they have free time. Along with the prayer of the Rosary, the Holy Father said it will help them in their service to the poor, the sick and those in need of a good word.”
Concluding his address, the Pope encouraged them, while acknowledging the demands of their service.
“When there is extra work to be done, we are always able to count on the Swiss Guard,” he said. “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.”