By Deborah Castellano Lubov

The Lord is always at your side…. Take consolation from Him… With Him near you, you will have all the strength you need…

Pope Francis gave this reminder today to new Swiss Guard recruits he received today, Oct. 2, 2020, in the Vatican. The new recruits were accompanied by their parents.

Giving “warm greeting” to the new recruits, Francis thanked them for “following the example of so many of their fellow country-men have chosen to dedicate a period of their youth at the service of the Successor of Peter.”

The presence of the recruits’ family members, the Pope observed, expresses “the devotion of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See,” as well as “the moral education and good example, with which parents have transmitted the Christian faith to their children and the sense of generous service to their neighbor.”

After greeting representatives of the Foundation for the Pontifical Swiss Guard, Francis recalled “the illustrious past” of the Corps, including the numerous Guards who gave the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives during the Sack of Rome.

The Holy Father prayed the oath the future Swiss Guards take Sunday be also “an attestation of fidelity to your baptismal vocation, namely, to Christ, who calls you to be men and Christians, protagonists of your existence.”

“With His help and with the strength of the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said, “you will face serenely the obstacles and challenges of life. Do not forget that the Lord is always at your side.”

Francis expressed his “heartfelt wish” that they “always be aware of His consoling presence.”

Expressing his gratitude to the entire Swiss Guard Corps, the Pope thanked them “not only for what you do — which is so much! — but also for how you do it.”

“Saint Teresa of Calcutta,” Francis recalled, “said that, at the end of our life we will be judged not for the many things we did, but for the love we put into those things.”

The Holy Father assured them of his prayers, asked them to pray for him, and imparted upon them, his Apostolic Blessing.

Here is a translation of the Pope’s address:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Address

Mr Commandant,

Reverend Chaplain,

Dear Officers and Members of the Swiss Guard!

I am happy to meet with you on the occasion of this your feast day. A warm greeting goes to the new recruits that, following the example of so many of their fellow country-men have chosen to dedicate a period of their youth at the service of the Successor of Peter. The presence of your family members expresses the devotion of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See, as well as the moral education and good example, with which parents have transmitted the Christian faith to their children and the sense of generous service to their neighbour. My grateful greeting goes also to the representatives of the Foundation for the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

Today’s day offers me the opportunity to recall the illustrious past of your Corps. My thought goes in particular to the “Sacking of Rome,” which witnessed the Swiss Guards defending the Pope courageously, to giving their life. May the memory of that event be able to evoke in you the danger of a spiritual “sacking.” In the present social context, many young people risk spoiling their soul, when they follow ideals and lifestyles that respond only to material desires and needs.

My wish is that your stay in Rome may constitute a favourable time to use to the best all the positive things that this city offers you. It is rich in history, culture and faith; therefore, take the opportunities offered to you to enhance your cultural, linguistic and spiritual baggage. The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your existence: may you be able to live it with a spirit of fraternity, helping one another to lead a life rich in meaning and joyously Christian.

May the oath you will take day-after-tomorrow be also an attestation of fidelity to your baptismal vocation, namely, to Christ, who calls you to be men and Christians, protagonists of your existence. With His help and with the strength of the Holy Spirit, you will face serenely the obstacles and challenges of life. Do not forget that the Lord is always at your side. My heartfelt wish is that you will always be aware of His consoling presence.

I take the occasion to renew the expression of my gratitude to the entire Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps. And I thank you, not only for what you do — which is so much! — but also for how you do it. Saint Teresa of Calcutta said that, at the end of our life we will be judged not for the many things we did, but for the love we put into those things.

I assure you of my prayers for all your good intentions and you too, please, pray for me. I impart to you all my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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