Julia Swist, Youth Speak News

What does ‘Amen’ mean?

By  Julia Swist, Youth Speak News
  • February 19, 2016

Like any other Sunday I sat in those wooden benches, eagerly waiting for the priest to take his place at the pulpit and give his homily. Impatiently drumming my fingers against the wooden edge, I looked around the church.

I noticed the intent stares on people’s faces, their concentration and the general hush around the room.

“What does Amen exactly mean?” the priest asked. Funny how everyone there could effortlessly recite the Apostle’s Creed and the Confiteor but such a simple question could stump us. I looked from side to side, only to see blank faces. No one seemed to know the answer.

Needless to say, the homily really stayed with me. As soon as I got home that day I made sure I would never forget the answer to that question ever again. And neither should anyone else.

The word Amen is used everywhere.

It’s used after every prayer and mentioned countless times in the Holy Bible. In fact, we use it so often that many of us undervalue its importance and even forget its meaning.

One of the greatest misconceptions is that Amen is used only as a point of finality, like to mark the end of a prayer. A reasonable conclusion considering we always say Amen at the end of a prayer. But Amen doesn’t mean “The End.”

Let’s start with the origins of the word. The word Amen comes from the Hebrew word āmán and has the equivalent meaning of “so be it” or “truly.” This word is also often associated with the Hebrew word for truth, emet, which carries the idea of certainty and dependability.

So when a priest presents the host to you and says, “The body of Christ,” the congregation replies with Amen as if to say we all solemnly agree that it is true.

It is an ultimate proclamation of our faith to say that Jesus Christ humbled Himself to be the Living Bread so that in consuming it, we may be united as one Church.

Think of it like using a single word, Amen, to express that all parishioners are in agreement with what is being said. Thus, next time you employ the word Amen, do not use it only because you are repeating what everyone else is saying but because you believe that what is being said is, beyond any doubt, true.

After all it would be contradictory to say Amen to something that you believe to be false. It’s kind of like saying Amen to purple being the best colour when your own personal favourite colour is blue, or eating peppers when you are allergic to them. It doesn’t make sense.

Thus, the next time you’re praying or attending Mass, you can proudly say Amen, knowing that you are using the word correctly. Amen to that!

(Swist, 16, is a Grade 12 student at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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