Fr. Oliver Blanchette, A.A., celebrated his 100th birthday Saturday in the company of family and friends. Below are the remarks he made at the conclusion of the Mass held in his honor.
- Gratitude: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” I can hardly say, as did Jeremiah, that I am too young to speak. Yet, may I hasten, before it’s too late, to thank God for creating and loving me as my Father all these years, and giving me his Son Jesus as my Savior and friend. I thank God too for my life as an Assumptionist, for my parents, and you my family, friends and acquaintances. Today, together, may we be grateful and rejoice.
- Forgiveness: Pope Francis when asked, in an interview, ‘Who are you’, paused a moment and said,’ I am a sinner.‘- And like Peter, I too must say I am a sinner. I have, unfortunately, offended God and others. As once more I ask forgiveness of my merciful Father in heaven, I take advantage of this occasion to ask forgiveness of each of you if ever I offended you and to assure you, if ever you offended me, of my forgiveness. May God’s forgiveness, may ours, bring joy to our hearts this day.
- Mercy: As we hear the psalmist cry out ‘‘ Praise the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever”, may we realize how fortunate we are to be alive in this year proclaimed by Pope Francis an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The year first concerns Catholics yet the letter introducing the year is addressed: ‘To All Who read this letter, Grace, mercy and peace.’ Then the Pope writes: “Mercy, the ultimate act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life.” Trusting ever more in God’s mercy, may we all become more merciful. Our world is dying for want of more mercy!
- Fraternity: Pope Francis in addressing perhaps the most motely group of people imaginable, the general assembly of the U.N., mentioned how its goal was to create a universal fraternity. In his letter to all people on care for the environment, whose subtitle is Care for Our Common Home, the Pope also claims we are to be a kind of universal family. Indeed many serious thinkers speak of a civilization of love. What an ideal and how far we are from realizing it in our own country let alone in the world. Perhaps an unrealistic ideal; though nothing is impossible for God. In any case it is our duty to strive for that ideal each day. It is my sincere hope that thanks to your presence here today, we can, together, at least for a moment, offer an example of what a universal family might look like. And may our togetherness, in gratitude and joy, create ripples of peace and fraternity, small yet strong and enduring that reach out to others, to the beyond, the holy in each person, to God.