Holy Thursday

March 28, 2024

March 28, 2024


March 28, 2024

Holy Thursday

Dr. Cynthia

Dr. Cynthia

Bailey Manns

Bailey Manns

My earliest memory of God’s presence is as a little brown girl who

 deeply believed the words of a song I learned in Sunday School:

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight,

Jesus loves the little children of the world.”  

Yet, something did not make sense….

My father was in the Army and nine months out of the year, my mom,

    dad, brother, and I lived on integrated Army bases.

When summer began, we took the long ride to segregated Alabama where

   my dad would leave us to spend the summer with our grandparents,

   aunts, uncles, and cousins.

In Church and Sunday School on the Army bases, there were only

   pictures of a white God and a white Jesus.

And because I believed in the song about Jesus loving children

   of all colors, I thought they just did not have all the pictures.

Yet in the ‘colored church’ in Alabama, there were only pictures of a

    brown Jesus, so I thought they did not have all the pictures either.

My little heart could not accept that there were not pictures of Jesus and

     children in all colors in all churches.

And more importantly, I knew in my heart that God had nothing to do

    with me having to use the “colored” water fountain or

sit in the ‘colored balcony’ of the movie theater or go to the “colored”

    school in kindergarten when we lived with my grandmother

while my dad was stationed in Korea.

I experienced God’s love and was comfortable in talking to God about

    what scared me, what made me mad, what made me happy

    and what made me sad.

I knew God LOVED me; ALL of me.

And if God loves ALL of me; God loves Everyone!

Today’s readings call us to metanoia – to new ways of loving others and God.

So, when he washed their feet

and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,

he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?

You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,

you ought to wash one another’s feet.

I have given you a model to follow,

so that as I have done for you,

you should also do.”

God loves ALL of me; God loves Everyone!

This past October, I served as a Synod delegate in Rome.

My heart, mind, and soul are still processing my journey with others from

   all over the world.

Because of those sacred encounters, my experience of Holy Thursday has

   deepened in a way I could not have imagined.

I spent many hours engaged in Conversations in the Spirit which were

   welcoming, inclusive, affirming and grounded in prayer and silence.

The spiritual foundation of the practice invited us to be present to the

   Holy Spirit, the protagonist, who challenged us to come together with

the commitment to individually and in community,

    be present to one another through deep listening, respectful dialogue, opening our hearts to one another, and discernment,

    as we shared our concerns about and dreams for our Church.

I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:

love one another as I have loved you. (Jn 13:34)

In October, I will return to Rome to participate in the final assembly of

   this Synod.

And although I will NOT be washing feet,

   I will follow the model of Jesus’ bold, fierce love as he cared for those

   he encountered.

He was a healing presence to those he taught, listened to, guided

    and accompanied.

I will be a healing presence to those I encounter, listen to, and accompany.

I will love others with more empathy and without distinction.

And I will love God more fiercely.

Beginning today, I invite YOU to multiply and deepen your Holy Thursday

    experiences as you embody Jesus’ bold, fierce love in your

sacred encounters with others and God.

Let us pray…

Loving God,

We are your people.

And each moment we are trying to manifest

     the Divine Way of being a human being.

We ask your Spirit to breathe on us

     and spread throughout our open minds,

listening ears, and hearts filled with grace for one another.

May your love guide and sustain us on our sacred Holy Thursday journeys together.


First Reading

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14


Ps 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18.

Second Reading

1 Cor 11:23-26


Jn 13:1-15
Read texts at usccb.org

Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns is one of four lay people from the United States who were appointed by Pope Francis as the first lay women and men voting delegates to participate at the first general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality this past October and again in October 2024. She is also one of the six St. Paul & Minneapolis Archdiocesan representatives in the Continental phase of the pre-Synod preparations and at Archbishop Hebda’s request, ably represented the Archdiocese on the team that worked with the World Council of Churches and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity to draft the international materials for the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Dr. Bailey Manns is the Director of Adult Learning at Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis—a community whose vision is to be a visible, progressive Catholic Community, compassionate and welcoming to all. She holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Florida and currently serves as Adjunct Faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She is an experienced soul companion/spiritual director, supervisor, and retreat leader with emphasis on human development, spirituality, spiritual formation, soul care for lay and ordained leaders, and sacred activism. She lives with her family in Bloomington, Minnesota.


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