One of the things I truly enjoy about being a bishop is the opportunity to celebrate Mass with many different parishes. It is both a challenge and a gift to preach the Gospel in so many different settings, to so many different people. But the one thing that remains the same, no matter where we are in the world, is the Eucharist.
We are nearing the end of the time period for the first set of priorities of our pastoral plan, one of which is more attention to the sacraments. One simple word can serve as a way of measuring if we made any progress in this regard: ‘AMEN.’
Our greatest form of prayer is the Eucharist. The greatest prayer within the celebration of the Eucharist is the Eucharistic Prayer. The great response at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer by which all present make that prayer their own, is AMEN.
During the Eucharistic Prayer, we recall God’s goodness and blessings throughout creation, and in each of our lives. We pray for the living and the dead. We pray that by our participation in the Paschal Mystery (the death, and resurrection of Jesus) we may all grow in holiness. We pray that the gifts we offer may become the true Body and Blood of Jesus.
Every Eucharistic Prayer concludes with the same formula (Doxology): Through Him, with Him, and in Him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. AMEN
In that single word, at that singular moment, the congregation makes the entire Eucharistic Prayer their own. This “Amen” is such an expression of faith! The same can be said of the “Amen” we express when we receive Communion. This word says publicly that “I believe” this is the Body and Blood of Jesus.
We say “Amen” several times during each Mass. There are three principle prayers at every Mass, namely the Opening Prayer, the Prayer Over the Gifts, and the Closing
Prayer. Again, each of these Prayers asks for an “Amen” at the conclusion. The “Amen” offered by the congregation is an expression of unity. It also expresses our desire that what is being requested by the Celebrant (priest) become a reality in each of our lives and in the life of the Church.
Another “Amen” that I look for as a bishop is during the Rite of Confirmation. As each person is anointed with the Sacred Chrism Oil, the bishop speaks the words: “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Powerful words! Powerful action of God through the Church! Again, a heartfelt “Amen” is the proper response.
When the Church gives an appropriate and faith-filled “Amen” to all of these moments, it shows a proper participation, understanding and appreciation of all that is taking place. So, the next time and every time the Church calls for such a response, can we get an “Amen?”!0