Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/452

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408

AMEN 408 AMKN tice for one who prayed alone to add Amen by way of conclusion. This usage seems to have developed even in public worship, and in the second half of the fourth century, in the earliest form of the liturgy which alTords us any safe data, that of the Apostolic Constitutions, we find that in only three instances is it clearly indicated that Amen is to be said by the congregation (i. e. after tlie Trisagion, after the "Prayer oi Intercession", and at the reception of Communion); in the eight remaining instances in which Amen occurs, it was said, so far as we can judge, by the bishop himself who offered the prayer. From' the lately-discovered Prayer Book of Bishop Serapion, which can be ascribed with certainty to the middle of the fourth century, we should infer that, with certain exceptions as regards the anaphora of the liturgy, every prayer consistently ended in Amen. In many cases no doubt the word was noth- ing more than a 'mere formula to mark the conclusion, but the real meaning was never altogether lost sight of. Thus, tliough St. Augustine and Pseudo- Ambrose may not be quite exact when they interpret Amen as re'rum est (it is true), they are not very remote from the general sense; and in the Middle Ages, on the other hand, the word is often rendered with perfect accuracy. Thus, in an early "Ex- positio .Mi.s.s:e" published by Gerbert (Mon. Lit. Alem, II, 276), we read: "Amen is a ratification by the people of ,what has been spoken, and it may be interpreted in our language as if they all said: May it so be done as the priest has prayed ". General as was the use of the Amen as a conclusion, there were for a long time certain liturgical formulae to which it was not added. It does not for the most part occur at the end of the early creeds, and a Decree of the Congregation of Rites (n. 3014, 9 June, 1853) has decided that it should not be spoken at the end of the form for the administration of baptism, where indeed it would be meaningless. On the other hand, in the Churches of the East Amen is still commonly said after the form of baptism, sometimes by the bystanders, sometimes by the priest himself. In the prayers of exorcism it is the person exorcised who is expected to say " Amen", and in the conferring of sacred orders, when the vestments, etc., are given to the candidate by the bishop with some prayer of benediction, it is again the candidate who responds, just as in the solemn blessing of the Mass the people answer in the person of tlie server. Still we cannot say that any uniform principle governs liturgical usage in this matter, for when at a High Mass the celebrant blesses the deacon before the latter goes to read the Gospel, it is the priest himself who says Amen. Similarly in the Sacrament of Penance and in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction it is the priest who adds Amen after the essential words of the .';acramental form, although in the Sacrament of Confirmation this is done by the assistants. Further, it may be noticed that in past centuries certain local rites seem to have shown an extraordinary predilec- tion for the use of the word Amen. In the Mozarabic ritual, for example, not only is it inserted after each clause of the long epist^opal benediction, but it was repeated after each petition of the Pater Noster. . similar exaggeration may be found in various portions of the Coptic Liturgy. Two special instances of the use of Amen seem to call for separate treatment. The first is the Amen formerly spoken by the people at the close of the great Prayer of Consecration in the liturgy. The second is that which was uttered by each of the faithful when he received the Body and Blood of Christ. (1) Amen njtcr the Consecration. — With regard to what we have ventured to call the "great Prayer of Consecration" a few wonls of explanation are necessary. There can bo no doubt that by the Christians of the earlier ages of the Church the precise moment of the conversion of the bread and wine upon the altar into the Body and Blood of Christ was not so clearly apprehended as it is now by us. They were satisfied to believe that the change was WTOught in the course of a long "prayer of thanks- giving" (Ei5xapi(rria) , a prayer made up of several elements — preface, recitation of the words of institu- tion, memento for living and dead, invocation of the Holy Ghost, etc. — which prayer they nevertheless conceived of as one "action" or consecration, to which, after a doxology, they responded by a solemn Amen. For a more detailed account of this aspect of the liturgy the reader must be referred to the article Epiclesis. It must be sufficient to say here that the essential unity of the great Prayer of Consecration is very clearly brought before us in the account of St. Justin Martyr (.. D. 151) who, de- scribing the Christian liturgy, says: "As soon as the common prayers are ended and they (the Christians) have saluted one another with a kiss, bread and wine and water are brought to the president, who receiv- ing them gives praise to the Father of all things by the Son and Holy Spirit and makes a long thanks- giving [evxapiaTLaf iirl iroKi] for the olessings which He has vouchsafed to bestow upon them, and when he has ended the prayers and thanksgiving, all the peo- ple that are present forthwith answer with acclama- tion 'Amen' ". (Justin, I Apol., Ixv, P. G., VI, 428). The existing liturgies both of the East and the West clearly bear witness to this primitive arrangement. In the Roman Liturgy the great consecrating prayer, or "action", of the Mass ends with the solemn doxology and Amen which immediately precede the Pater Noster. The other Aniens which are found between the Preface and the Pater Noster can easily be shown to be relatively late additions. The Eastern liturgies also contain Amens similarly inter- polated, and in particular the Amens which in seeral Oriental rites are spoken immediately after the words of Institution, are not primitive. It may be noted that at the end of the seventeenth century the ques- tion of Amens in the Canon of the Mass acquired an adventitious importance on account of the contro- versy between Dom Claude de Vert and Pere Lebrun regarding the secrecy of the Canon. It is now com- monly admitted that in the primitive liturgies the words of the Canon were spoken aloud so as to be heard by the people. For some reason, the explana- tion of which is not obvious, the Amen immediately before the Pater Noster is omitted in the solemn Mass celebrated by the Pope on Easter day. (2) Amen after Communion. — The Amen which in many liturgies is spoken by the faithful at the moment of receiving Holy Communion may also be traced back to primitive usage. The Pontificale Romanum still prescribes that at the ordination of clerics and on other similar occasions the newly-ordained in receiving Communion should kiss the bishop's hand and answer Amen when the bishop says to them: "May the Body of Our Lord Josus Christ keep thy soul unto everlasting life" (Corpus Domini, etc.). It is curious that in the lately-discovered Latin life of St. Melania the Yovuiger, of the early fifth century, we are told how the Saint in receiving Coramimion before death answered .■men and kissed the hand of the bishop who had brought it (see Cardinal Ram- polla, Santa Melania Giunioro, 1905, p. 257). But the practice of answering . ion is older than this. It ajipcars in the Canons of Mippolytus (No. I4()) and in the Egyptian Church (Irdcr (p. 101). Further, Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., VI, xliii) tells a story of the heretic Novatian (e. 250), how, at the time of Com- munion, instead of Amen he made the people say "I will not go back to Pope Cornelius". Also we have evidently an echo of the same practice in the .cts of .St. Perpetua, .. n. 202 (Armitage Robinson, St. Perpetua, pp. 08, SO), and probaljly in Tertul-