What do we mean when we say “Amen”? Amen is derived from the Hebrew āmēn, which means “certainty,” “truth,” and “verily.” It is a word affirming that which has been spoken or expressed. So when we say Amen at the end of a prayer, we affirm the words and sentiments of that prayer.
We Catholics say “Amen” when we are presented with the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. The minister of Communion raises the Host or the Chalice and says, “The Body/Blood of Christ,” to which we respond “Amen.” As with a prayer, we affirm that we believe that this is Jesus’ Body and Blood, even if we don’t quite understand it.
What do we affirm when we pray “Amen” at Communion? We affirm our belief in the Incarnation. We believe that God the Son became human. Christ set aside the fullness of glory to become bound by space and time and all of the limitations of human flesh. When we are presented with Christ’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion, we declare our belief that this IS our God who walked with human feet, spoke with human words, saw with human eyes, and touched others with human hands.
When we pray “Amen,” we affirm God’s presence with us. We attest that the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood and believe that Christ is truly and physically present with us in the Eucharist. We take Christ’s Body and Blood into our very bodies, becoming one with our God. Our God is not a God who dwells beyond us; rather, our God is a God who dwells within us. When we say “Amen” and receive Christ’s Body and Blood into our own bodies, we affirm God’s life within us.
We acknowledge Christ’s self-sacrifice. When we come together, we celebrate the “sacrifice” of the Mass. We commemorate the complete self-emptying sacrifice of Christ’s passion and death. We look to the Cross and give praise and glory to our God who gave everything to draw us into God’s heavenly embrace.
We say yes to Christ’s invitation to become like him. Our God became human to help us recognize the seed of divinity planted in our souls and to show us how to cultivate and nurture that seed to grow in our divinity. Through his living example and his teaching, Christ shows us what it means to live the divine life in the world: to give of ourselves to others, to repent of our sins and turn to God, to forgive others, and to love with our entire being. When we say Amen to Jesus in Communion, we are accepting his invitation to become more like him to bring God’s life and love into our broken and needy world.
When we pray Amen at Communion, we are ultimately affirming God’s love for us and our love for God. Christ gave his all – God’s presence and self – to draw us deeper into relationship with God. When you come to Mass and receive Christ’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion, sincerely consider what you mean when you pray “Amen.” What is the truth you are certainly expressing?