Arts & Faith: Lent—Holy Thursday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

Arts & Faith: Lent logoAs we move from Lent to Easter, we’ll provide Ignatian prayers for the Triduum, inspired by videos from Arts & Faith: Lent. The video and prayer for Holy Thursday are based on John 13:1-15.

“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

—John 13:14-15


As you begin this time of quiet prayer, I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight and your legs planted on the ground. Take a few moments to breathe in and breathe out.

Spend this time centering yourself to listen to what God may be saying to you during this time of prayer, to listen to what rises up in your heart. Close your eyes for a few moments. As you sit with your eyes closed, use these or similar words: “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” When you are ready, open your eyes and pray.

Washing Feet

The dining table is scattered with the remains of a meal enjoyed by all there. Imagine you are sitting at this table. Your hands are on your belly, and you’re feeling full and satisfied. The food and wine were savory and sweet. It brought back such memories of meals you shared with friends and family through the years—meals where love was shown, forgiveness offered, and hurts healed. A smile comes across your face as you recall the hours your mother spent in the kitchen getting ready to feed those she loved. Humming softly, she would carefully knead and fold the dough that would become her delicious, crusty bread.

There is much chatter around this table. You look over at these people you have traveled with through many towns and villages, bringing the message of hope and love. A peace comes over you, a peace that tells you what a good job you’ve done. Across the table you see Jesus. He is looking around the table, but his face is serious. He stands up, puts a towel around his waist, and comes toward you. You don’t understand what’s happening. Jesus stands before you, wrapped in a towel and carrying a basin of water. He looks at you and asks you a question. What does Jesus ask you? How do you respond?

Jesus kneels in front of you. You move back in your chair. “No, Jesus. Please get up,” you say. He looks in your eyes. His eyes seem to look right into your soul. He smiles and offers his hand to take your foot. You hesitate. How can this be? you think. Jesus gently cups your foot in his hand. With his other hand, he pours the warm, perfumed water on your foot. He looks at you and smiles. It feels like there are just the two of you there. Jesus speaks to you. What does he say? What do you respond?

You look down and notice how dirty your feet are from walking on the dusty paths. Jesus simply and gently washes them and then dries them with the towel around his waist. Your eyes fill with tears. Here is Jesus, whom you left your home to follow, washing your feet like a servant. You lower your face and quietly weep. Jesus reaches up and puts his hands on your face. He gently whispers to you, “You are loved. You are loved.” He stands and hands you the jug of water and basin. Taking a towel, you wrap it around your waist and…

Do I let Jesus accept me for who I am, “dirty feet” and all? Who are the people in my life whose “feet” need to be washed? On this Holy Thursday, how can I accept Jesus’ call to follow his example of service?

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Read a transcript of today’s video here. The art is Bernhard Strigel’s Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet.


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