ASK FATHER: Father insists I say “Amen” at Communion

From a reader…


Father, I receive communion on the tongue while kneeling. Recently, a priest has begun to make an issue that while I am already in the position for communion with my mouth open and tongue out, he demands a verbal “amen.” He made a scene first when my son, 10, and then I, both went for communion. Is it a mortal sin not to say “amen”?

First, if the priest “made a scene”, he should not have “made a scene”.  On the other hand, I am wondering if he did “make a scene”.  This has the feeling of exaggeration brought on by frustration, embarrassment, conflict, take your pick.

That said, in the Extraordinary Form the priest says , “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” The priest says “Amen”, not the communicant.

However, in the Ordinary Form of the the Roman Rite, the form of distribution of Communion is spoken by the minister says “Corpus Christi… The Body of Christ” and the communicant responds “Amen.”

The communicant responds, “Amen.”

Is it a mortal sin not to say “Amen”?  Depending on the reason why you don’t (such as defiance), it could be.

So, if you are going to kneel and receive on the tongue, in the Ordinary Form, do your part and say, “Amen.”

It isn’t difficult and it is the right thing to do.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Elizium23 says:

    Thank you, Father. I have often asserted that responses at Mass are compulsory and I have been ridiculed for this position. Can we extrapolate that the other prescribed responses are compulsory in the same sense?

  2. Papabile says:


    The prayers are “compulsory” in the ordinary form only insofar as one needs to internalize them. The “Amen” is demanded as a form of assent to the proclamation of “Corpus Christi” or “Sanguinis Christi” and is the only one that needs to be verbalized.

    I believe one can find this in an early copy of Notitiae.

    It specifically makes a distinction between the new and old way of receiving Communion. It makes the point the old form of “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen” was, in a sense also a blessing and thus different inherently from the proclamation of “Corpus Christi.”

    The idea that one is compelled to verbalize the Pater, or other responses during the New Rite is absurd.

  3. mamajen says:

    The “Amen.” that we say at the OF is an acknowledgment that we believe in the real presence just before we receive. Why would one want to refuse to do so? I know that EF devotees dislike the OF version of “active participation”, but it is what it is. At my parish everyone receives kneeling and on the tongue at the OF mass, and the quick “Amen.” before doing so does not complicate matters in the least. I can understand if someone is unaware of this difference between the EF and OF (I was, until recently), but to knowingly refuse to say it just seems disrespectful.

  4. tominrichmond says:

    The reason this is problematic is that, like so many changes, it has roots in historical theological issues arising from the Protestant revolution.

    The saying of “amen” at the distribution of the Host was introduced by Protestants to demonstrate that the assent of the “lay priesthood” is what effected the presence of Christ in the sacrament.

    Presumably any Catholic approaching the blessed Sacrament is presumed to understand that It is in fact the Body of Christ, without the need for a verbal affirmation.

    Certainly, no priest should insist on this response as a condition for distribution of the Host, as has happened in my personal and recent experience.

  5. Andrew says:

    On one occasion a priest – after he had already given me communion – insisted loudly in front of everyone around that I say “amen” louder, since my first “amen” wasn’t loud enough to his liking. Which, with the host already on my tongue, became rather challenging.

    What about the deaf and the mute? Can they receive communion? Do they carry a little card saying “please don’t yell at me, I am deaf”?

  6. FXR2 says:

    Father Z,
    I grew up with the Novus Ordo Mass and have been assisting almost exclusively at the EF Mass for since Summmorum Pontificum was issued on my birthday. I sometimes forget to say Amen when receiving communion in the Novus Ordo. When we assist at the Novus Ordo Mass I always remind my children to say Amen, and sometimes I still forget. It is not intentional, but when I tilt my head back, close my eyes and stick out my tounge, I just wait to feel our Lord pressed upon it and I forget. I think this might be similar to the genufluctions after the consecration, after the elevation, and again after placing our Lord down and genuflecting again by the priest, they just happen. They become almost automatic and not conscience. I would say try to remember, but our Lord knows what is in your heart. If the Priest, Deacon, or extrodonary minister of Holy Communion prompts you just say Amen.


  7. Absit invidia says:

    Just one piece of advice for your reader: listen to Fr. Z on this one. He is right, if you’re going to the Ordinary Form, follow the norms for the Ordinary Form; if you’re going to the Extraordinary Form, follow the norms for the Extraordinary Form. It’s not complicated. Your energy would best be spent pursuing the permanent establishment of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in your parish. Ever since Summorum Pontificum, the Extraordinary Form has been given legitimacy, and we now have a source to pray the mass with the reverence we have been desiring out of the Ordinary Form. If you don’t think the Ordinary Form is reverent enough work for the Extraordinary Form. Because, now that the EFM is an option, there is going to be resistance for many priests to adopt the norms used in the EFM, if only to keep the two distinct. I can see some real opposition to reform the OF since the EFM is now available. So our spiritual desires would best be served by pursuing the permanent establishment of the EFM. Time to roll our sleeves up and get dirty working for what we desire. It’s there for us to achieve, we would have only ourselves to blame for not achieving it.

  8. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Thank you, Father, for making this clear. I am perplexed that there are Catholics who will not acknowledge the Real Presence by a simple “amen.” Mostly, however, I suspect that people who refuse to do so are just Protestants who have wandered in and don’t know the rite.

  9. APX says:

    Why is this such an issue with some Traditionalists?? They whine and complain when the priest doesn’t follow the rubrics, but when they are required to follow the rubrics, it becomes an issue.

    It still bothers me that children in First Communion classes for the EF aren’t also taught how to receive communion in the OF.

    Furthermore, I would be hesitant to give communion to someone who doesn’t seem to know how to receive it. Who’s to say they aren’t Protestant?

  10. Incaelo says:

    It’s indeed not difficult. I also receiving kneeling and on the tongue during the OF Mass in my parish, and I simply wait until Father has said his part to say Amen and open my mouth. He has the patience to wait those few nanoseconds.

    The Church is not going to ask the impossible. If you’re somehow unable to speak due to some physical infirmaty, that will not keep you from receiving Communion. If it would, the word Amen would be nothing but an automatic response, while it should be something that has meaning for us. And the meaning matters. A deaf or mute person can conceivably express his or her belief in the Lord present in the Eucharist in some other way if speaking the word ‘Amen’ is not an option.

    And, lastly, perhaps it has roots in the Protestant Reformation, I don’t know. Protestantism plays no part in my reception of the Eucharist, and I doubt it does for anyone else. Amen, I confirm my belief in the Risen Lord who I am about the receive. It’s not hard.

    Then again, demands about the loudness of your vocalisations are a bit odd… It’s not a show for the other faithful.

  11. stuart reiss says:

    I was educated at a Benedictine boarding school. The boys followed much of the monastic regimen. My RE teacher, a very holy priest said that amen means I agree, and the consecrated host is Our Lord, whether I agree or not. If I don’t then don’t receive. If I do, then my Amen doesn’t add anything more.
    The same apply to the Pater, as it was taught by Our Lord himself, again whether I agree or not is rather immaterial.
    I don’t say Amen at any form. As an altar boy I’ve seen accidents happen, when the priest pushes the Host in whilst the communicant is trying to say amen, and I have then had to catch Our Lord deftly with the patten.
    If its safe and legal, say nothing. Surely, kneeling there implies consent. I deplore communion used for politicking and pushing a ‘point’ across. By priests mainly. One refused to give me communion on the tongue. As I have NEVER touched our lord and never will, as I’m a married man, I had to get up and go. I attended another mass that day, and I don’t go to mass at the church I was refused. Very simple.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Obedience, imo, is one of the highest virtues, as one must be humble to be obedient.

    I go to the TLM weekly now, but I am getting tired of EFers who want to be more holy than Rome.

    Just do what is called for, neither more nor less. Here is Aquinas….

    “Now a deed is rendered virtuous, praiseworthy and meritorious, chiefly according as it proceeds from the will. Wherefore although obedience be a duty, if one obey with a prompt will, one’s merit is not for that reason diminished, especially before God, Who sees not only the outward deed, but also the inward will.”


    “Obedience is not a theological virtue, for its direct object is not God, but the precept of any superior, whether expressed or inferred, namely, a simple word of the superior, indicating his will, and which the obedient subject obeys promptly, according to Titus 3:1, ‘Admonish them to be subject to princes, and to obey at a word,’ etc.”

    “It is, however, a moral virtue, since it is a part of justice, and it observes the mean between excess and deficiency. Excess thereof is measured in respect, not of quantity, but of other circumstances, in so far as a man obeys either whom he ought not, or in matters wherein he ought not to obey, as we have stated above regarding religion (92, 2). We may also reply that as in justice, excess is in the person who retains another’s property, and deficiency in the person who does not receive his due, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 4), so too obedience observes the mean between excess on the part of him who fails to pay due obedience to his superior, since he exceeds in fulfilling his own will, and deficiency on the part of the superior, who does not receive obedience. Wherefore in this way obedience will be a mean between two forms of wickedness, as was stated above concerning justice (58, 10).”

  13. Geoffrey says:

    I am a non-instituted acolyte and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at my parish and often encounter communicants who do not say “Amen”, which seems to go hand-in-hand with barely know how to properly receive in the hand (no pun intended). All this is the result of very poor catechesis. Let us pray that sacred ministers, lay ministers, and the faithful in the pews learn to “say the black and do the red”!

  14. jacobi says:

    I have been troubled by this but purely for practical reasons. When I attend the EF reception kneeling, and no amen, no problem.

    At the OF, the priest and I sometimes got things mixed up, since I bow then step forward and receive standing by mouth. Occasionally he would try to insert while I was saying amen and the Host went all over the place. This doesn’t happen now since he is used to the increasing number who receive by mouth.

    Having said that, I would have thought that the action of kneeling/bowing and receiving by mouth is sufficient indication of belief in the Real Presence. I mean, there’s no need to get obsessive is there?

  15. Wiktor says:

    I know of a priest who in EF masses simply says “Corpus Christi” (in Latin). Some people do respond Amen, some don’t. [Father should be using the entire form, and not the Novus Ordo form.]

  16. FrG says:

    Re. Inaestimabile Donum:

    “When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence
    towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a
    sign of adoration.”

    I have heard this interpreted to mean that kneeling obviates the need for a verbal “Amen,” as belief (and assent) is implied in the gesture itself.

    Perhaps this is incorrect? I’d be grateful for any thoughts.

  17. Sonshine135 says:

    Wow! Who new a little “Amen” could cause such an uproar. Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian’s need “pastoral” lovin’ too. As long as Marty Haugen’s music is allowed to echo through our gymnas……er……sanctuaries, we can cut ’em a little slack. My church has one, portable kneeler in front of Father (the style of church today wouldn’t allow for an altar rail), so to keep the line moving, one has to kneel, say a quick “amen”, receive, and get back up within about 2.5 seconds. Hey, even a NASCAR pitcrew leaves off a lug nut every now and then. A little charity goes a long way.

  18. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Kneeling at the altar rail and receiving by mouth, there is a practical problem: by the time the priest says ‘Corpus Christi’ he is often already reaching out to put the host into one’s mouth.
    If you respond with an ‘Amen’ – however promptly and quickly – and only then extend the tongue, there is a real risk that the priest may misplace or fumble with the Sacred Host, with awful potential consequences. OTOH if you open your mouth as the priest extends the Host, you cannot say the word ‘Amen’. The only solution – and it seems to be one now generally adopted by other communicants – is to say ‘Amen’ without waiting for the words ‘Corpus Christi’.
    Which is liturgical nonsense, as it is then not a response: but at least avoids the danger of an accident.
    The problem is partly that the OF priest habitually moves much faster along the line of kneeling recipients than he would for the EF, so both he and the communicant have less time to react. And priests do not know whether to expect a response or not, as these days very many communicants do not say ‘Amen’.

  19. A.D. says:

    Amen, Sonshine135! What a mountain out of a molehill. Receiving on the tongue does make it difficult to say an “Amen” when the priest or EM is saying “Body of Christ” and offering the Host at the same time. After all, one does have to open one’s mouth to say “Amen”. However, obedient to Father Z’s instructions, I will make a greater effort to say, “Amen”, because I truly do believe!

  20. Yes I too can back up the questioning reader. I wondered if the reader now has this same priest that we had, at their new parish.
    I typically attend the EF. I am not strident or self-righteous at Masses, or whatever the commenters might think deserves correction by a priest. At the OF, while I always receive on the tongue, I don’t kneel because of the difficulty arising without a rail or support. I might have forgotten the ‘Amen’ or have said it too softly. While the pastor is more gentle, this former assistant WOULD make a scene repeatedly, impatiently withhold Communion and, with a mean beady-eyed piercing look, loudly demand an ‘Amen’ from the communicant until satisfied with a loud ‘Amen’ from the bewildered person.
    The communion line is almost comical as each person loudly says “AMEN!!” – and woe to those yet unaware.
    This poor priest created a lot of hard feelings in the parish with repeated inappropriate behavior in and out of Mass, such as stopping Mass to tell somebody they can’t kneel, or stop and stare at a late-comer until they were seated – it was crazy stuff that I have never ever witnessed by any priest.

    In his defense, the man has the Faith and was appalled at the lax behavior throughout the parish. For instance, the behavior of the school children improved hugely as he demanded they genuflect at entering the pew, cross themselves, stay silent and attentive during Mass and such things. This assistant did improve general behavior but he was feared for his constant anger and bullying. His confessional line rarely got any people.

    It is very important to pray for such unhappy priests. I still pray for this miserable man – he fights something terrible within himself.

  21. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Part of the genius of the traditional Roman liturgy is that it did not/does not rigorously codify what the congregation does.

    An unfortunate mark of the Novus Ordo Missae culture (at least in anglophone, especially American culture) is the demand that everyone do exactly the same thing, a demand that is often imposed with the not so thinly (if at all disguised) caveat that failure to do exactly what you’re told in matters of posture and active response is somehow disobedient; sinful; schismatic; heretical; a sure sign of imminent hellfire should a bus strike you after Mass.

    All this smacks more of American Puritanism than traditional Catholicism.

  22. acardnal says:

    “An unfortunate mark of the Novus Ordo Missae culture (at least in anglophone, especially American culture) is the demand that everyone do exactly the same thing, . . . .

    “All this smacks more of American Puritanism than traditional Catholicism.”


  23. This is what happens when people and even priests bring their agendas to Mass. This is why we have liturgical books– to keep peoples’ individual agendas out of it. It isn’t Fr. A’s Mass, or Fr. B’s Mass, Fr. Z’s Mass, Sister Jane’s Mass, Bill’s Mass, Fred’s Mass, Mary’s Mass, or even Andrew’s Mass. The Mass belongs to the community. When I go to an Extraordinary Form Mass, I do as the rubrics for the Extraordinary Form instruct me to do. When I go to an Ordinary Form Mass, I do as the rubrics for the Ordinary Form instruct me to do. It makes absolutely no difference whether or not I personally like or approve of those rubrics. It isn’t about what Andrew thinks of this or that rubric– it is about what the Church thinks. Sometimes, the Church might disagree with me; in such a case, I need to defer to the Church, because the Mass isn’t my personal property to do with as I will, and maybe– just maybe– others, perhaps over the course of history, may be more knowledgeable or experienced or graced than I am about the liturgy. I don’t have to like any of it– I just have to do it. The adage isn’t “Like the Black, Say the Black,” or “Like the Red, Do the Red.”

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  24. FrG says:

    And yet…

    “Rome has always been vigilant in opposing any attempt to regiment souls. She knows that the spirit of the liturgy requires respect for the Gospel liberty proper to the New Law. On the contrary…in demanding of all that by word and gesture they obey the liturgical forms with a military precision…[they] impose on souls rigid frameworks and burden them with external obligations which are the same type as the observances of the Old Law.”
    –Jacques and Raissa Maritain, Liturgy and Contemplation

  25. OrthodoxChick says:

    I don’t get what the big deal is, but I tend to be clueless anyway, so…

    I prefer the EF, but can’t always get there due to distance and gas prices. So, we end up at the OF more frequently than the EF, much to my chagrin. But since we do attend both, I constantly have to remind my kids not to mix their Mass forms. OF, we say Amen. EF, say nothing b/c the priest makes the response for you. Kneeling to receive communion at our local OF parishes is not an option because all of the local priests stand on the “stair” of the altar (if that is the correct term). That means they’re taller/higher up than most communicants, who are standing on the floor. My son tried kneeling on the floor to receive at an OF Mass and the poor pastor looked like he had been thrown for a loop. Since he remained on the altar stair, he practically had to bend down to the floor himself to reach my son’s mouth. After that, my “new” OF reception posture has been to genuflect as the person in front of me is leaving (using the front pew for a crutch if I need one), stand up and say “Amen”, and receive on the tongue.

    So far, I’m the only one in any local parish I’ve been to who does this (still trying to break my kids of the reception in the hand that they were taught) and everyone looks at me like I’m an over-zealous nut job, but whatever. As long as I can find a way to reverence Our Lord without holding up the line, unduly aggravating the priest, or otherwise going out of my way to make trouble, I don’t care about getting the stink eye from the usual crowd of aging hippies.

  26. ruraldiscerner says:

    I have had a similar experience (in seminary no less!) where a certain priest who was less than supportive of those who were of a more traditional bend went out of his way to remind me while I was walking somewhere that I needed to say “Amen” before receiving Holy Communion. It wasn’t so much that I was avoiding saying it, but that he obviously didn’t like giving Communion on the tongue and tried to place the Host so quickly that often there simply wasn’t time to squeak in the “Amen” before the Host was passing through my lips as food and was on its way to being a remedium sempiternum!

  27. Matthias1 says:

    I agree with Fr. Z, of course, but it is possible for a priest to be a bit of a jerk about this.

    I was at a wedding once, went to communion. The priest says, “the body of Christ,” I (while bowing) respond “Amen,” and put out my hands for communion. He looks at me, not giving me communion, as I start to get confused. He then says “Amen?” at me a little loud and as a question. I figured out he hadn’t heard me (combination of the music and I’m a little quiet maybe?) and hadn’t seen my lips move (since I was bowing); I said my “Amen,” received and went back to my seat. No big deal really.

    That said, it felt a little embarrassing and was a little bit of a jerk move by the priest. I’d have thought even if he hadn’t heard me, the bow and approved hand position (for ordinary form) would have been enough signal I knew what I was doing.

  28. Random Friar says:

    I don’t know about this priest in question, and others have addressed him, but I wanted to bring two points.

    1) It helps me, as a priest, to hear an “Amen.” Those who are not Catholic, or “out of practice,” shall we say, will generally not say an “Amen.” It’s a cue for me to make sure they’re Catholic. I try to do it subtly. It makes less of a scene if I have to chase them down for taking the host with them.

    2) My pet peeve here is the “Anticipatory Amen.” Please say “amen” after I say something to say “amen” to. :)

  29. The Masked Chicken says:

    The actual text from the GIRM is:

    “When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.

    161. If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ). The communicant replies, Amen [Communicandus respondet: Amen – Latin typical edition, my edit], and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed and if the communicant so chooses, in the hand. As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes it entirely.”

    There are two points to remember, here. First, the, “Amen,” is a RESPONSE that is to be made before receiving Communion in the NO. As much as the communicant is to make the response, the priest is required to wait for the response before trying to give Communion (since, otherwise, it is not a true response to the Corpus Christi). That means that priests who shove the Eucharist in the mouth while the person is responding or even before the response are violating right order. In the hustle and bustle of distributing Communion timing mistakes can happen, so, following the rules is as important as counting rests in a piece of music for a musician. One does not enter when one feels like it!

    Secondly, the word, respondet, simply means, “answers, replies, or responds,” not, “shouts a response”, not, “makes a dramatic reply.” It does not specify decibel level. It does not even require that the vocal chords move, only that air pass between the lips (or even makes a sign that signifies amen, as in AmSlang – American Sign Language). A deaf person, a mute person, a person with laryngitis makes a perfectly valid response by moving the lips and passing air. Indeed, nowhere does it say in the GIRM that the priest must ascertain that the response was said in a correct and approved manner before giving Communion. It merely says that the reply is to be made. Kneeling is not a reply – it is a reception position, so it does not substitute for the saying of, “Amen.” Also, if one person says Ay-men and another says Ah-men, is the communicant to be denied Communion because the priest has a preference (both pronunciations are correct, by the way, however, the form, Ah-men is the earlier Jewish form, with the Ay-men form coming about in the 15th-century)? Of course, not.

    The point is that in the NO one should act with charity and obedience. Make the response, looking at the priest in the eye, if necessary, then wait. The priest should make the statement, Corpus Christ, and wait for the reply, then proceed. There is something wonderfully musical about the act of receiving the Eucharist. Why spoil it with mis-timed entrances, or the urge to be a prima donna? Play your parts and the music will take care of itself.

    The Chicken

  30. Uxixu says:

    I find myself silently saying the Amen in the EF with the priest as I do many of their prayers in the Latin Mass and give a vocal Amen without reservation before the priest or deacon in the OF.

    I think Geoffrey is right. I would suspect extremely poor catechesis than Protestants or other heretics masquerading through a Novus Ordo.

  31. Priam1184 says:

    I receive on the tongue at the Ordinary Form. I say ‘Amen’ though I confess it is not very loud because I am usually in the process of opening my mouth to receive though it doesn’t seem to be a problem for anybody. I was told by a permanent deacon once that one of the reasons that they are so militant about hearing the ‘Amen’ is the constant concern that someone might be seeking to stash the host away surreptitiously in order to do something nefarious and sacrilegious with our Lord later on. Apparently they thing that if someone says ‘Amen’ it removes that possibility. I am dubious on that score, since I am pretty much certain that the devil will say whatever he needs to in order to achieve his ends. In any case if everyone just received on the tongue then this would never be an issue…

  32. New Sister says:

    @ Augustine Thompson O.P. – Father, you would assume that a woman kneeling on the floor, wearing a chapel veil, who didn’t say “amen” loud enough for you to hear, is a Protestant? That is surely what this reader wrote in about. She said she was kneeling (i.e., on the floor)

    [This is starting to stray.]

  33. New Sister says:

    @ Tina in Ashburn – what a small world; this priest was moved from a parish near you (Ashburn) to our parish. He makes a scene, and I think it’s unjust how at least one commenter above links this issue to “…EFers who want to be more holy than Rome.” In my case, 100% of the four times he made me repeat “amen”, I had in fact said it, just not loud enough for his approval (or hearing; I’m not sure which.)

    If canon law requires us to say “amen” we should, but I don’t think a priest should doubt that a well dressed lady, at daily Mass, wearing a chapel veil and kneeling on the floor isn’t affirming Our LORD’s presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament because she whispers.

  34. Mike says:

    The advice of Fr. Z simply makes sense. However, when I first started going to TLM’s I do remember thinking how the trimmed-down OF “Amen” fits the trimmed-down OF liturgy.

    Not saying that the “Amen” isn’t a rich, powerful word, btw.

  35. MarkG says:

    When I was an altar boy for the TLM back in the 1970s, it seemed like it was common practice for the priests not to say the prayer and Amen for each individual person. The priests would usually just continually repeat the prayer and probably give Holy Communion to 3 or 4 people per repetition. It was kind of mumbled so people couldn’t tell if it was over or not. The priest would still make a cross with the host before each person.
    It seems like today, priests in the TLM always say the prayer and Amen for each person.

  36. Priam1184 says:

    @MarkG The TLM in the 1970s??????

  37. Elizium23 says:

    Okay, so a family of four goes to an OF Mass, and they are the only attendees. Their father has carefully explained to them how no responses are compulsory, so they all silently, actively participate by internalizing the responses, greeting the poor unsuspecting celebrant with stony silence at every turn. What kind of Mass is being celebrated here? Totally licit? And then reception of Holy Communion is some kind of exception where they’d be compelled in conscience to respond aloud “Amen”? How is this response different from others? How have we discerned this difference?

  38. Elizium23 says:

    I mean, it is understandable to be unable to make responses, because of a disability or a language barrier or some other legitimate impediment. But well-catechized adults don’t have to make any responses aloud? That’s illogical. If I found myself at a Vietnamese Mass I would at least pick up a Missal and attempt to make the responses. I realize that congregational responses aren’t part of the Tradition of the Roman Rite and so traditionalists sometimes have a deep-seated phobia of the people saying, much less singing, anything in the liturgy. (I could be totally off-base here because it appears to me that the Divine Office has always depended on call-and-response structure for proper and licit celebration. Is it legitimate to omit audible responses during its celebration as well?)

    It seems at the very least rude to the celebrant to neglect making responses aloud when one is perfectly able to do so. And I could go to a Spanish Mass and insist on making my responses in English or Latin (JRR Tolkien comes to mind) because I do not have the native responses memorized, but I will likewise take up a Missal and follow along in order to make Spanish responses. It comes from perhaps an internal sense of–what? Scruplosity? I would say propriety and politeness, to the celebrant and the faithful assembled around me, that I fit in and respond in kind so that our worship is united.

    The common understanding seems to be that responding aloud is compulsory. I mean, almost everyone does it. Most of us understand Sunday Mass attendance to be compulsory so we do it, sometimes that is the only reason. So if a large percentage of the faithful suddenly realized that responding aloud was optional, what kind of effect would that have on liturgy, unity of prayer, oneness of intention?

  39. James Joseph says:

    I say, “Amen” because I am supposed to say the words. I think I am supposed to anyway.

    I do find it difficult to say, “Amen” kneeling, with my tongue sticking out and my eyes closed, and head crooked-back.

  40. @New Sister well haaay neighbor. Keep yer head down LOL. And pray hard for that priest.

    I agree with Fr. Z’s point that we should behave at the OF as the OF requires and not be insolent jerks. We all need to be humble and obedient as possible. For sure, the laity causes a lot of pain for priests. I’m beyond exhausted by the fighting in the Church I have been seeing from every direction, if nothing else.

    At the same time, I wanted to let it be known that some of us laity are not trying to be jerks – that sometimes a *very rare* mean priest can destroy the peace. I admit the effects of our priest’s Masses were so destroyed by the misguided shenanigans that I stopped going to daily Mass there. Others just kept at it and still attended. See, I’m a wimp and the lesser person, running from the cross God was pleased to send me.

    The bright side is that our young new assistant priest is extremely kind, fervent, and working like crazy to reach out to everyone. I feel like we won the top pick of the draft.

  41. stuart reiss says:

    To Augustine Thompson OP.
    A pity I had to read your comment. I had high regard for the Domine Cane, until now. [?]

    Thank you for making my point New Sister and Andrew Saucci – politicking [?]with the Eucharist by priests is a deplorable form of clericalism.

    There’s no confusion with any ‘form’ Jesus is Jesus when we receive. So, it’s easier to follow the same practice when one receives.

    Bishop Athenasius Schnider [Athanasius Schneider]tells us how to receive in his excellent book Dominus est. I recommend that to all. Kneel, receive on tongue, no amen needed. [Except, in the Novus Ordo, of course, where the communicant’s response is clearly indicated.] And no one touching the Eucharist, unless you are an ordained minister ( ie. Deacon, priest, and the silly extra ordinary what nots don’t count)

    [In the Ordinary Form, the communicant has a response to make. Should the priest have an aneurysm if people don’t make it, or don’t make it loudly enough? No! But when you start stubbornly to refuse to make it, as a communicant, at the Ordinary Form… that’s starting to smack of something that should have been parked at the door of a confessional.]

  42. OrthodoxChick says:


    I was taught that the laity is supposed to make the “Amen” response at communion. I can’t recall receiving any formal instruction about the rest of the responses during the Mass being compulsory. I learned to read what was in bold in the missal as a child. Between that, and monkey-see/monkey-do, that’s about all of the formal instruction I’ve ever received as to “what to do” at an OF Mass. And I’m a cradle Catholic.

    Since discovering the EF and longing for it on the Sundays that I can’t get there, I now find myself silently praying the EF prayers from my missal during the OF mass. Maybe it would be different if there were more formal, reverently offered OF masses in my area, but there aren’t. We still have the 70’s/80’s style liturgies. And, I notice there’s a good bit of dead air during the OF, especially during the consecration after the Pater. Father is praying silently and everyone is staring at him blankly or fidgeting in their seats. So, I read my latin-english missal during those times. I also read it during the hippie-dippie folk tunes, because praying actual prayers of the Mass helps me avoid a near occasion of sin where folk music is concerned. I also like to read the Confiteor in latin to myself, since it is usually omitted week after week at the OF parishes in my area. I haven’t missed a mass at all during Lent and it has only been said once so far.

    If my latin prayers during the OF are rude or impolite to the Lord, then I’ll stop doing it as soon as someone points out my error to me. But if you’re saying that it’s somehow rude to the people around me if I’m not praying the same thing as they are at the same time that they are, I say, tough cookies. People used to pray their rosaries during the EF. People pray silently about intentions for themselves and others all through both an EF and an OF mass. I don’t understand how this could be wrong or present some sort of error or problem, but maybe I’m wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  43. In the Eastern Liturgies, and the TLM, Amen is not said, and sometimes, I know for myself, I get used to it, that it becomes a habit to not do something, like say Amen after “The Body of Christ”. I speak softly….but it’s a simple thing, follow the rubrics for whichever form one is at…but I believe kneeling is an expression of Adoration…

  44. Filumene says:

    My family recently ran across this problem . My husband said “Amen”. The priest ( who obviously didn’t catch it) gave him communion, and THEN demanded he say “Amen” again. My husband had to mouth ” Amen” with the Sacred Species on his tongue to get the priest to stop saying ” Say Amen!” and, yes…it was a rather loud scene, because of the priest’s demands and because of the nervously giggling patent holder. My daughter, who was following in line, is 9. She DID forget, but he placed it on her tongue, and with Our Lord in her mouth, tried to make her say the response. She kept moving, because she’s….NINE….and was always told not to speak while the Blessed Sacrament still remained on her tongue. The most frustrating thing was the priest asking them to speak AFTER having already distributing the the Blessed Sacrament. Just to be clear, we have no attitude about following the rubrics. They are there for a reason.

  45. You could always throw back your head and bellow a good evangelical-style ‘AAAAAAAAAAAA-MEN!’ and then crack a big smile, and then put your tongue out for Holy Communion. It would give Father all the assurance he needed, plus you get to smile at Jesus.

  46. CJ says:

    As someone who receives Communion on the tongue, I’ll admit that it can be a bit awkward to try to say “Amen” before sticking out your tongue to receive. Since we are standing and moving in a line, the priest often wants to place it very quickly and move on to the next person, which can make you a bit rushed. Nevertheless, it’s important that you say “Amen.”

    When you approach the priest, especially when it’s one who doesn’t know you, here’s how things go. They make eye contact with you and say “Body of Christ.” Immediately they start looking down at your hands, but they see that your hands are still folded in a praying posture. They start looking back up at you, wondering what’s going on; you then say “Amen” and stick out your tongue. It all happens very fast, but can be a bit tricky.

    It can also be tricky when it’s a priest who knows that you receive on the tongue. For me, one such priest is moving so fast, and he knows that I receive on the tongue that before he has even finished saying “Body of Christ” he’s mving it towards my mouth, which I have yet to fully open because I’m waiting to say “Amen,” which I just barely get out as I’m rushing to make sure that my tongue is far enough out for him to reasonably place the host there without risking his hands bumping into my tongue or the host falling to the floor. A bit awkward, but as always, “Say the black, do the red.”


  47. seattle_cdn says:

    I’m an EMHC…I often defer to charity and think that maybe I missed the Amen or it was too quiet. There is a certain way people comport themselves such that it’s easy to tell that someone isn’t Catholic and just lost. If I missed the Amen and they have that glassy “lost” look in their eyes, or the sneaky “I’ll pretend to be Catholic” look on their face – I quietly ask them if they’re Catholic.

    But I notice this happens often enough in my parish that I’m going to bring this up with the powers that be for a clear direction on what we should do.

  48. Sulo says:

    it a mortal sin not to say “Amen”? Depending on the reason why you don’t (such as defiance), it could beIn the Ordinary Form, the communicant has a response to make. Should the priest have an aneurysm if people don’t make it, or don’t make it loudly enough? No! But when you start stubbornly to refuse to make it, as a communicant, at the Ordinary Form… that’s starting to smack of something that should have been parked at the door of a confessional.]

    How does this rise to the level of mortal sin? What about one’s conscience? I note that liberal catholics and even some “conservative” will use the word “conscience” very quickly. I can understand that some people think it isn’t a big deal. However, others think it is a symptom of a much bigger problem (or it is an unusual demand). Therefore, why not “refusal due to conscience”? It just seems like a bit of “go along to get along”…

  49. stuart reiss says:

    Dear father Z,
    Since it’s your comments in red on my post above, I’m writing directly to you. The question marks probably need clarifying? Sorry you didn’t get the subtlety. Domine Cane is a play on words to mean lord’s Dogs. Ie the watchdogs of orthodoxy, an epithet earned by the Dominican order. Sadly on this occasion, in my opinion, Augustine of the order of preachers, doesn’t fulfill that role, as per his comments. And disappointingly accuses, and indulge in name calling. Very low and improper.
    The second question mark is next to the word politicking. This to identify the use of the Eucharist, by priests to ‘control’ promote their own agenda. I.e.” I’ve got the power to give communion to you or not according to my own terms”. Some priests hold the congregation to ransom, and demand ‘amens’ as in this case, or standing only or communion only on the hand. I also think, it’s improper, to withhold communion from anyone catholic, unless the priest knows the person is in manifest sin, and to give communion would only heap calumny.
    Receiving communion on the hand, and the use of extraordinary ministers (a made up silly title) is always an abuse. But seem to be tolerated, and even encouraged by some priests.

    Thank you for correcting spelling of the bishop of Karaganda’ name. Very kind of you.

    I am very fortunate to worship in a large Church in London, where the novus ordo mass is done beautifully well, ad orientem. The Tridentine mass too is done here. And our parish priest is a world renowned liturgist and author and a former advisor to the papal household on liturgy. I consulted him today on the question of Amen at communion by the communicant. And he doesn’t think its necessarily a sin not to say amen, specially as we don’t say amen at the ecce angus dei, but instead profess our unworthiness to receive him. However, it is implied that we believe it is our Lord. And the shortened Body of Christ, is actually part of a longer prayer, to which rightly an amen is said, by the priest himself.

    I know nothing of parking sins, but, if you mean to say that it ought to be confessed, that I don’t say amen at communion, frankly my dear father, I think your suggestion is ridiculous.

    But, I think your love for the slavishly accurate liturgical translations is laudable. And you are very much in my prayers.

    Hope this clear up.

    [Not really. Not. But it doesn’t matter that much.]

  50. SimonDodd says:

    This question—from the context one infers from someone who would be among the first to complain of liturgical abuse—boggles the mind. At communion, Father says “the body of Christ”; you respond “Amen.” If father instead said “here you go” and you say nothing, have either of you committed a mortal sin? What an incredibly stupid question! At communion, Father says “the body of Christ”; you respond “Amen.”

    And I cannot for the life of me understand how receiving on the tongue poses a difficulty in any of this. What on Earth are you doing, walking up to Father with your mouth open and your tongue already hanging out? Goodness!

  51. yatzer says:

    My experience is going to an OF after going mostly to EF and forgetting to say “amen”. Just forgot. The priest held the host mid-air while looking at me sternly while I frantically searched my mental database searching for what I might have done wrong. I finally said the magic word as a last resort and was able to receive. I figure maybe he thought receiving on the tongue indicated a general defiance of everything OF, but who knows? I was really embarrassed anyway.

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