Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 16 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Giuseppe Antonio Tovini
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

What does the word "Amen" mean?

WOMAN,PRIEST,COMMUNION

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw | CC BY-ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/30/18

A small word with a deep spiritual meaning.

Christians (as well as Jews and Muslims) around the world say the world “Amen” countless times a day, both in personal prayer and the liturgy. For a large number of people it has become second nature, uttering the word without ever giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, for many people the word doesn’t have a particular meaning and is said simply because it is at the end of a prayer.

However, the prayer has a deep spiritual meaning, one that is easily overlooked.

The word “Amen” is a Hebrew word that is used frequently in the Old and New Testaments. According to Bible Study Tools, “The verb form occurs more than one hundred times in the Old Testament … [and] nearly seventy occasions in [all] the Gospels.”

Jesus uses the word often in his preaching, frequently saying “Amen, amen I say to you …” This word is usually translated as “truly” or “verily” in biblical translations and at its root signifies truth or the confirmation of a truth. In the Old Testament it typically signifies a full acceptance of what was previously spoken.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “When Amen is thus used by Our Lord to introduce a statement He seems especially to make a demand upon the faith of His hearers in His word or in His power.” In other words, Jesus seeks to elicit a full assent to his teachings by his followers while at the same time affirming his divine authority.

To further deepen its spiritual power, in some Latin translations of Nehemiah 8:6 the original “amen, amen” is rendered as fiat, fiat. This is an interesting translation as the Blessed Mother’s “yes” at the Annunciation is known in Latin as her fiat. This Latin word is translated into English as “let it be done” and summarizes Mary’s humble obedience to the Word of God. In this context the word “Amen” not only affirms what was spoken, but is pledge of allegiance to God in humble submission.

The early Christians adopted this word in a liturgical context, assigning it to the congregation where they would say “Amen” during the divine service, affirming what was spoken or prayed. Since then it has continued to be a central part of Christian prayer and is a single word with a great depth of spiritual meaning.




Read more:
What does “Alleluia” mean?

Tags:
Liturgy
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
FORGIVING COUPLE
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
D'CRUZ FAMILY
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.