Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

4/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The word Amen is not static.  It is in fact dynamic, because it is a two-way, double-faceted, word.  It is a two-arrowed word.  One might even say that, at the Annunciation, it became an "incarnate" word.  It is a word that, when uttered in faith, is spoken by two people--God and man---and at the same time.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: amen, Eucharist, Hebrew, prayer, great amen, christian life, spirituality, Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Amen is perhaps one of the most common words on a Christian's lips.  It is a direct transliteration--not translation--from the Hebrew word אמן, amen, a word the Greek Scriptures themselves transliterate: ἀμὴν, amēn.

We generally tend to see the word as a clausula, a caesura, a period, a seal at the end of our prayers: ". . . but deliver us from evil, Amen."  ". . . now and at the hour of our death, Amen."  ". . . is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." 

In this sense, the word might be translated something along the lines of: "So be it," or "Let it be so," or "Be it firm," or "Be it so established."

Not only do prayers end with "Amen," but so does the Catholic Creed.

Along these same lines, the word Amen is the last word of the Bible, as if it were a knot tying together the last lines of the book of Revelation:  "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people.  Amen."  (Rev. 22:21)

We might get the impression, from its use at the end of prayers, creeds, and scripture, that the word Amen is static, that it acts sort of like a bookend, a final twist, a knot.  But this would be a big mistake.  Despite its common use, it is therefore a word worth exploring in this series on the three sacred languages, Tres Linguae Sacrae.

The word Amen is not static.  It is in fact dynamic, because it is a two-way, double-faceted, word.  It is a two-arrowed word.  One might even say that, at the Annunciation, it became an "incarnate" word. That's why Blessed John Paul II, in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, tied the word "Amen" to Mary's Fiat: "[T]here is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord." (No. 55)   It is a word that, when uttered in faith, is a word spoken by two people--God and man--and at the same time.

The dual nature of the word Amen is expressed, for example, when Amen is used in reference to the Creed.  There, it takes a meaning more along the lines of "I believe!"  "Thus the Creed's final 'Amen' repeats and confirms its first words: 'I believe,'" says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  "To believe is to say 'Amen' to God's words, promises, and commandments, to entrust oneself completely to him who is the 'Amen' of infinite love and perfect faithfulness."

The Catechism continues: "The Christian's everyday life will then be the 'Amen' to the 'I believe' of our baptismal profession of faith."   CCC 1064.

As the Catechism explains, Amen "comes from the same root as the word 'believe,'" that is to say the Hebrew word אָמַן, aman.  The Catechism continues: "This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness, and so we can understand why 'Amen' may express both God's faithfulness towards us and our trust in him."  CCC 1062 (emphasis added).

It is therefore a two-way word, a mediatory word, an "I-Thou" word, a word which of itself and in itself is a simultaneous dialogue between God and man: "I" speaks to, or believes in, "Thou" and "Thou" speaks to, or reveals himself to, "I," and at one-and-the-same-time.  It expresses at one-and-the-same-time God's fidelity and our fidelity in that fidelity.

The Roman Catechism also known as the Catechism of the Council of Trent observes that it is important that we should know "why we close our prayers with this word, and what it signifies, for devotion in concluding our prayers is not less important than attention in beginning them."

The Roman Catechism suggests that the Amen we use at the end of our prayers, though we certainly utter it, is not so much our prayer or its closure, but God's response.  Amen, which may be translated "know that your prayers are heard," says that Catechism, "has the force of a response, as if God answers the suppliant, and graciously dismisses him, after having favorably heard his prayers."

This is dramatically symbolized in the Communion rite of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, where the server--who symbolizes the people--recites the entirety of the Lord's Prayer except the Amen.  The priest--who stands in persona Christi, in the person of Christ--responds to the server's recitation with the Amen.

Taking this insight to heart, when we say Amen at the end of our prayers, especially the Lord's Prayer or the great Eucharistic Amen, we might say that it is more along the lines of God speaking to us, and not so much as us speaking to God. 

This mediatory aspect of the word Amen is particularly vividly expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which draws on St. John's Revelation, where Jesus is referred to as "the Amen." (Rev. 3:14) 

"Jesus Christ himself is the 'Amen.'  He is the definitive 'Amen' of the Father's love for us.  He takes up and completes our 'Amen' to the Father."  CCC 1065 (emphasis added). 

Again, we have here a two-way theme: the "Amen" is Christ, both true God and true man, the mediator between God and man.  We say Amen, but Christ the Amen completes and perfects and takes it to the Father.  It is in this manner that St. Paul uses Amen in his second letter to the Corinthians: "For all the promises of God find their Yes is in him [Jesus].  That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God." (2 Cor. 1:20)

One can say that this meaning of Amen becomes literally and really true in our worthy reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in communion, what might be called our personal Eucharistic Amen.  The priest or extraordinary minister offers to us "The Body of Christ"--that is, the Body of Jesus the Amen--or "The Blood of Christ"--the Blood of Jesus the Amen--and our answer is, "Amen!"

Jesus, the Eucharistic Bridegroom, stoops down from the heavens physically and spiritually to consummate as it were a marital union with us, who are his Eucharistic brides.  This is the meaning of communion--a repair of disunion, a bringing together of what originally was one but has become separate.  "For he who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the LORD of hosts; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth.  The LORD calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, a wife married in youth and then cast off." (Isaiah 54:5-6)

"Yes indeed," Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI observed at a Sermon at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, "the Eucharist is more than a meal, it is a wedding-feast."  "Certainly, through this gift of his love," that is found in Jesus giving himself to us in the Eucharist Benedict XVI continued, "he transcends all distance and makes us truly his 'partners'--the nuptial mystery of love is accomplished." 

My individual Eucharistic Amen is par excellence a word for two, a word which makes partners, even a marriage, of God and me.  "This is a great mystery, a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and the Church."  (Cf. Eph. 5:32)  At this moment of consummation, of communion, Jesus and I are like Tobias and the beautiful, but demon-haunted Sarah, who together prayed before their nuptials and together ended their prayer with "Amen, amen." (Tobias 8:8).  Jesus, in giving himself to me, is Tobias.  I, in receiving the Lord who gives himself to me, am Sarah.  I might be sure, that in my Eucharistic Amen, Jesus and I are together, saying "Amen, amen." 

Jesus, the Amen, gives himself to me, we say Amen together, the Amen being more Jesus' response than my prayer, and I become--by grace--Amen.  This Eucharistic Amen is the ultimate in divine and human dynamism and divine and human union.  It is no wonder that Blessed John Paul II found in that Eucharistic Amen an analogy to Mary's Fiat.  "Be it done to me according to your word."  (Luke 1:30-35)

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Tough Lessons for Real Life from the Book of Job Watch

Image of Job was right. He was living in the heart of God's will. When Job was stripped of what his fair-weather friends believed were the -proofs- of Gods favor, he found the greatest treasure of all, the beautiful poverty of purified Love. He found the richness reserved for those who love God for God's sake. Jobs fair-weather friends told him that his loss and difficulties were his fault, but Job knew better. In his unwavering hope in God's love and mercy we find the example of purified, living faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

When Job was stripped of what his fair-weather friends believed were the -proofs- of Gods favor, he found the greatest treasure of all, the beautiful poverty of purified Love. He found the richness reserved for those who love God for God's sake, for Love's ... continue reading


Interesting facts about the 400 years old Bom Jesus Church in India, the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier Watch

Image of The Basilica of Bom Jesus Church is more than 400 years old.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Located in Old Goa, India, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The foundation stone was laid on 24th November 1594, and completed on 15th May 1605. It was raised to the status of a minor Basilica in 1946 and is considered to be one of the ... continue reading


Bombing Islamic State is fueling the violence

Image of Civilians inspect the rubble of a building destroyed by Allied airstrikes in Syria. We cannot bomb our way into the hearts of people.

By Tony Magliano

We need to do something! With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and even beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be ... continue reading


Pope Francis to try case of pedophile archbishop in Vatican court Watch

Image of Former archbishop and ambassador Josef Wesolowski is under  arrest at the Vatican.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican will try one of its own for child abuse. After decades, possibly centuries of abuse and cover up, the use of the Church has a cover for pedophiles has finally ended. Former ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski will now face trial for abusing boys he met ... continue reading


Pope Francis says to listen to God's word and put it into practice Watch

Image of During his homily at daily, the Pope urged Christians to read God's word faithfully and to truly listen with our hearts to what He has to say.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to Pope Francis, living the Christian life is simple: listen to God's word and put it into practice. "These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus, hear the word of God and put it into practice. This is the Christian life, nothing more," the ... continue reading


Pope Francis appoints five women to major theological council Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has been critical on the Catholic Church's failures to adequately include women in theological discourse, has appointed five to a major theological council that is charged with aiding the pope and others with theological policy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Theological Commission, established in 1969 to study doctrinal issues faced by the Catholic Church and to help the pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has just received five new female members, raising the number of female ... continue reading


Pope Francis asks new bishops to avoid self-promotion, to love their congregations instead Watch

Image of Pope Francis meets with bishops for an audience. The Holy Father had important advice for a group of new bishops yesterday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has admonished a new generation of bishops against seeking promotion and instead asked them to look after and love their congregations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During an address at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis spoke to 138 ... continue reading


POPE IN ALBANIA: Pope Francis denounces religious militants during one-day trip Watch

Image of On his first trip as pope to a European country outside of Italy, Pope Francis made no direct reference to Islamic State militants who have seized territory in Syria and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his one-day trip to the chiefly Muslim nation of Albania, Pope Francis soundly denounced religious militants, declaring that no one act as the "armor of God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Let no one consider themselves the 'armor' of God while planning ... continue reading


If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Christian Has a Vocation Watch

Image of Priesthood, Diaconate in Christ,consecrated or religious life,lay ecclesial movements, consecrated Christian marriage - every Baptized Christian has a vocation. We just have to learn to live it!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
1 In the end it was Job who broke the silence and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8
2 may my prayer reach your presence, hear my cry for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:51-56
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2014 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter