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Father Muench Says...

AMEN moments of life: faith comes alive

December 26, 2012

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The prayer for a Year of Faith is AMEN.

As you pray this year, seeking a new and stronger faith, express your acceptance with a strong and confident AMEN. 

There are so many moments in life that truly bring faith alive and strengthen our faith – these are definitely AMEN moments.

Christmas is a season filled with AMEN moments, moments that challenge and strengthen faith – experiences that are faith-filled.

Jesus came as our Messiah and Savior. God promised to send a Messiah, but could anyone have expected a baby in a manger?  Yet, such it was. Jesus came to be one of us – born a baby – like us all.

The Incarnation began in such a humble way.  This may well be why babies are often the cause of an AMEN moment.  There is something special that happens when you see or hold an infant. Truly, it is a moment when God seems very present and all too real – a faith-filled moment – an AMEN moment.

I still remember the first time I held a baby.  I was a young priest, visiting my brother, Tom, and his wife, my sister-in-law, Mary Lee.  This was shortly after the birth of their first child – quite a while ago. 

When I arrived, my brother was out and Mary was holding the baby and trying to do some chores. Other guests were expected also.  Suddenly, she thrust the baby into my arms and went off to do some work.  I was a bit startled, but something special did happen. 

This baby – this breathing baby  whose heart beat I could feel – produced a real spiritual experience for me as I recognized something special – the God’s presence. It was an AMEN moment. 

As I think of that day again, I have held that memory a long time. That child is now 50.

As they grow up, young children trigger many AMEN moments, saying something unexpectedly profound or asking some deep question. In little ways, they truly stir up the flames of faith. 

One of the enjoyable things, I am asked to do as a priest is to celebrate a school Mass or children’s Mass. I truly love these times.

Like so many of my priest friends, I like to ask the kids questions during the homily.  It is a bit of a risk yet, often one of the students will “knock my socks off” with a rather profound response or some sort of deep insight which becomes an inspiring moment – a real AMEN moment.

However, I must admit that I have experienced some real AMEN moments when I have been visiting or offering Mass at a nursing home. 

Many are the times when one of the folks will tell of their gratitude to God for the gift of faith.  Many have shared with me how their faith helped them to meet a difficult time in life.  For me, this is an AMEN moment.

I want my faith to be strong like theirs when my time comes to meet a crisis in life. They strengthen my faith as I see the strength of faith in their lives – as they share their stories with me.

My own faith is constantly made stronger by those to whom I minister as a priest.  I learn so much from those to whom I bring the sacrament – especially those in the hospital, the sick and the aged. 

They always seem to know a great deal more about faith than I do.  So each time I visit them is truly an AMEN moment.

I often tell the story of a 13-year-old girl that I knew as a patient in a hospital.  Although she was dying, I noticed that each time she had visitors there seemed to be all sorts of joy and laughter in her room.  One day when we were alone I asked her what was going on. I knew that she was often in pain and suffering.  She confided in me, “Father, my family feels so badly when they visit – I have to cheer them up.”  Each time I remember that young girl – it is an AMEN moment for me.

Now,  it is your turn. Today, stop a moment and consider the many AMEN moments that are yours. And each time you attend Mass – say your AMENs with faith and confidence to God in gratitude for this wonderful gift of faith.

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