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Posted March 17, 2006

Responding with a True “Amen”

Taken from the book Active Participation at Mass: What it is and How to Attain it [the book has been posted on our website]

Most important of all, we must do all we can to pronounce an “Amen” that is true. We can do so only if we have paid full attention and participated completely in the particular part being concluded. Only then can we really assent to all that has gone before.

We must be convinced that the “Amen” is a most important element. It says that both people and priest have offered this part of the Eucharist and agree on its sentiments. The following points may be of help in this respect.

The ancient rabbis taught that those who pronounced the “Amen” after a blessing were superior to the person who pronounced the blessing. They likened those who said “Amen” to the heroes in battle who always came second, after the shield-bearers who went first.

In addition, the writers of the Talmud listed three erroneous ways of pronouncing the “Amen”: furtive, plucked and orphaned.

A Furtive “Amen” is one stripped of the first vowel (from “Amen” it becomes “uhmen”) A Plucked “Amen” is one like an unripe fruit that is forcefully plucked making it lose the last consonant (from “Amen” it becomes “Ame”). Finally, an Orphaned “Amen” is one pronounced accurately but lacking any relation to the prayer that led to it.

Hence, the writers admonished the people: “Respond neither with a furtive “amen”, nor with a plucked ‘amen’, nor with an orphaned ‘amen’ or you will reject the blessing with your own mouth.

“Whoever responds with an orphaned ‘amen’ may their children be orphans! A furtive ‘amen’ may their days be fleeting! A plucked ‘amen’ may their days be plucked! But whoever prolong the ‘amen’ may their days and years always be prolonged!”

Becoming Christ’s “Amen”

A key point for us to remember is that our “Amen” is not an ordinary word. It is not something that we say on our own.

Our “Amen” takes place within the public prayer of the Church an is called for by God’s grace. Indeed, it is always uttered in Christ, who is the fulfillment of all God’s promises:

“For all God’s promises find their ‘Yes’ in him, which is why it is through Jesus that we say ‘Amen’ to the glory of God”.

As true and faithful witness to God’s fidelity to his promises, Christ is God’s “Amen,” God’s “Yes.” He is the living “Amen” showing that God is ever willing and able to help us on our journey through life to eternity.

Since this is the case, we should be Christ’s “Amen” too. We should make it our responsibility to say a continual “Yes” to Christ and all that he stands for.

In other words, we are to live in such a manner that all our “Amens” will show forth our commitment to Christ and our union with him. We are to be living “Amens.”

If we do become living “Amens” our joyous and dedicated “Amens” pronounced in the liturgical assemblies will not be relegated there. They will not be vain sounds but overflow into our everyday lives.

Such living “Amens” will ensure that we are worshiping “in Spirit and in truth”. They will enable us to “put on” Christ and radiate him to others.