AMEN! A Declaration Of Faith..

Posted: April 25, 2011 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Memory Book, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Have you ever reflected on why you say Amen prior to receiving the Body of Christ?  Do you even know why you do? Has it become  routine to do so?


We Catholics should all be saying a loud resounding AMEN! A conviction on our part…as for me personally I do so because..

I am saying……

  • I believe wholeheartedly in the Creed I profess.
  • I believe that I am truly receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ my saviour.
  • I am proud to be a catholic.
  • I am in communion with the Church, i.e. part of the body of Christ my saviour.  I am one with my sisters and brothers in Christ.
  • I am receiving Jesus in a state of grace, free from mortal sin and hope to have eternal life.
there are more I could lists but these few are the most important to me.
Here is what  Rev. Jerome A Magat said in a homily I believe or a Gospel reflection…

Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you , unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

In John 6:51-58, the Gospel provides us with another installment from John’s sixth chapter.- the Bread of Life discourse. In order to solemnize His claims, Jesus would often preface His statements by saying, “Amen, amen, I say to you.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reminds us that our Lord would use the phrase “Amen, amen” in order “to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching. His authority founded on God’s truth” (CCC, 1063). Similarly, we use the term “Amen” after we recite the Our Father at Mass during what is known as the “Great Amen” as well as when we receive Holy Communion.

What does the term “Amen” mean, and what does our saying “Amen” mean when we respond to the statement “The Body of Christ” when we receive Holy Communion?

What does the term “Amen” mean, and what does our saying “Amen” mean when we respond to the statement “The Body of Christ” when we receive Holy Communion? Again, the catechism reminds us: “In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word ‘believe.’ 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) And so, more than simply “I believe,” the word “Amen” means that I place my life forward for the truth of a particular claim. It is more than an idea that resides in the mind. It is also an act of the will expressing God’s trustworthiness and my desire to believe, trust and love Him.

When a communicant says, “Amen,” to the words “The Body of Christ” when he receives the Eucharist at Mass, he is saying “Amen” to several realities. First, he is saying “Amen” to the reality of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Next, he is saying “Amen” to the priesthood which confects this Eucharist, the authority of the bishop who ordained the priest and the pope that holds them in full communion with the See of Peter. Finally, he is saying “Amen” to all that the Church proposes as being true and definitively taught as worth of our belief. So, in order to make a genuine communion, a person receiving the Eucharist must be in full communion with the Church – that is, he accepts everything that the Church teaches. To believe in anything less makes that person’s “Amen” a disingenuous act. A true “Amen” links us to Jesus and nourishes us into everlasting life.

This precisely is the reason why Catholics don’t offer Holy Communion to non-Catholics (with the exception of the Orthodox). The reasoning is really quite simple. If, for example, a Protestant or a Jew was to come up to the Communion line and the priest said, “The Body of Christ,” the only response would be “Amen.” However, since neither Protestants nor Jews believe in the Eucharist in the same way that Catholics do, the priest would be asking the Protestant or Jew to violate their conscience in saying “Amen” to realities they do not accept.

Thus, the Church reminds us that the sacraments are not intended to engender unity. Rather, they are intended to express the unity that already exists among believers. Catholics are, therefore, not to receive communion in Protestant ecclesial communities because Catholics are not in communion with Protestants. That is why Jesus’ words in our Gospel are so chilling. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”

So, receiving Holy Communion with a resounding “Amen” expresses the unity of believers in the Catholic Church under the headship of the Roman Pontiff and his collaborators, the bishops. May the “Amen” that we say at Holy Communion be authentic – reflective of our unity of belief in all that our Lord has deemed necessary for our salvation and made known through His Bride, the Church.

~~~~~~~~

It is a statement of belief that the gathered Church makes in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. It is further an acknowledgement of the presence of Christ in the faithful and union with Christ in his Body, the Church.

See how St. Augustine framed both of these aspects of the mystery of the Body of Christ in the early 5th
century:

“If you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle as he says to the faithful, ‘You are the body of Christ and His members.’ (1Cor 12:27) If therefore, you are the body of Christ and His members, your mystery has been placed on the Lord’s table, you receive your mystery. You reply “Amen” to that which you are, and by replying, you consent. For you hear, “The Body of Christ,” and you reply, “Amen.” Be a member of the body of Christ so that your “Amen” may be true.” But, why in bread? … Let us listen to the Apostle who said, ‘We though many, are one bread, one body.’”

(1Cor 10:17) [Augustine, IIA6.1 Sermon 272 (dated 405-411) Ed PL 38.1246-1248]

How is “Amen” an Act of Reverence?


Saying “Amen,” means we assent to our faith with our head and heart and will. Not only do we believe in the real presence but we also commit ourselves to living and acting as Jesus did and does. Tertullian, a 3rd century North African theologian, applied the Latin term sacramentum to the rites of baptism and Eucharist. Sacramentum referred to the oath of allegiance that soldiers made to the Roman emperor to serve him, even with their life. At this time in
the Church’s history, persecutions were common enough to make baptism into Christ a commitment that could mean dying for the faith. Thus, saying “Amen” to the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ serves as a Catholic pledge of allegiance to follow Christ.

How is Receiving Communion Itself an Act of Reverence?


The act of receiving is itself another powerful and meaningful gesture. “To receive” means to get, to obtain, to admit, to let in, and to accept. It implies a certain openness in the person receiving. It points to a hoped-for capacity in the person to be nourished by what one receives and to be nourished by the generosity of the Giver. Receiving, therefore, is an act that renders one vulnerable to what is given and to the one giving. Will the gift meet all my needs? Will the gift
be truly what I desire? Will I ever be hungry again? The procession of the faithful, the Body of Christ in the world is a procession of the hungry, the needy, and the hopeful. We may not always recognize each other in this manner, but all of God’s people (except possibly the very youngest) approach the minister of Communion with some experience of these things. What then do we see? We see members of our worshiping assembly engaging in a dialogic act of proclamation and response as well as a reciprocal act of giving and receiving. The minister of Communion, who herself has just been nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, now serves the assembled Body by giving them food and drink. Even with her own vulnerability, demonstrated in needing to receive Communion, she and other ministers welcome fellow
sinners and nourish these same members of the Body with food and drink from heaven.

FOR REFLECTION


“What you see is transitory, but the invisible reality signified does not pass away, but abides. Behold, it is received, eaten, and consumed. Is the body of Christ consumed? Not at all! Here, on earth, His members are purified, there they are crowned. Thus, what is signified will endure eternally, even though what signifies it seems to pass away. Receive,
then, in such a way that you may take thought for yourselves, that you may have unity in your hearts, that you may fix your hearts always on high.” St. Augustine, IIA6.2 Sermon 227 (dated 412-413, 416-417)

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