So, this past weekend, there I was, standing at my assigned station offering Communion during the 9:45 a.m. Mass. Church was packed with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds. It was, as it usually is, a beautiful celebration of church.

However, in this moment, something was different. I had to consciously take a deep breath and clear my head, because I was really, really tired. I had been “all over creation,” as they say, the day before for various ministry tasks in and out of town. Then it hit me. I could clearly hear each person saying that one word, “Amen.”

This may sound like something obvious, but allow me to explain. Often at that point in the liturgy the choir has moved into the first Communion song. Today, however, they chose to wait a little longer to do so. It took me a little while to realize it, but being able to hear each person say that one word was what was different.

While this moment is one of the simplest and, perhaps, most routine experiences that one could have during Mass or any type of church service, for that matter, it really touched me in a new kind of way. As I heard little children, our older parishioners and people of so many wonderful ethnicities responding, “Amen,” I was hearing so much more. Looking back, I think it wasn’t just the variety of people that struck me. It was the variation in tone.

Some responded with a bold, from deep within, “AMEN!” Others said it a bit more softly. One gentleman even responded, “yes indeed!” And some sounded tired. Perhaps worn down a bit. Fatigue. Excitement. Sadness. Reverence. Curiosity. Amazement. And so much more. These are what I heard and felt and saw in their faces that day.

While it was the same word being repeated over and over, I felt each person was imparting to me their part of the story. The definition of the word is simply, “it is so …” or “… so be it!” Some take it to mean, “I believe.” I heard and sensed so much more that day, however. I heard, “Lord, I need you…Lord, I want to believe … I want to trust you … I am broken…Lord, please give me strength for the journey…heal my wounded soul …” And all of this came to me again in a new way that day, just because of a simple moment of silence. I found myself again amazed at, not only the power of silence, but the power of one simple word.

“Amen!”

Fr. Trey Nelson

St. Jude the Apostle Church

Baton Rouge