Monday, March 8, 2010

What do “Magic Squares” and "Eucharistic Healing Processions" Have in Common?

At first blush, nothing. But leave it to the wonderfully imaginative and holy Sisters of Life to find some way to connect them! I was on a deeply moving and beautiful retreat at their retreat house in CT this past weekend where I experienced both the magic of Sister Mary Joseph’s “magic squares” and the miracle of Christ’s healing power in a eucharistic procession. Wow! Perhaps you have taken part in such a procession before, but I hadn't and it has changed me. It began with the sisters telling us that we were going to participate in a kind of reenactment of Mark 5:24-34 ("Daughter, your faith has made you well.") I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I wasn't as excited as the sisters. The procession started with the standard exposition hymn ("O Salutaris Hostia") and the benediction continued as it would normally, but then the priest read Mark 5:24-34 and exhorted us to pretend we were that faithful woman and to hold on to the humeral veil as if it were the cloak of Christ while he blessed us with the monstrance. As I processed up with the sisters and my fellow retreatants, my heart began to beat faster and I started to weep. I was afraid I was going to make a scene! As I knelt down and the priest raised the monstrance, I looked up and for the first time I understood that famous utterance of a certain peasant of Ars: "I look at Him and He looks at me." I was overwhelmed by what could only have been the piercing and purifying gaze of Christ. I was healed.

A special thanks to Mother Agnes who encouraged all of us to put aside our lenten observances for the weekend and partake of the many glorious treats prepared so lovingly by the Sisters of Life. Thank you!!

For more information on the Sisters of Life and the wonderful retreats they offer, go to

Magic Squares

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup roasted, salted pecans, peanuts or almonds coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, oats and melted butter. Pour into prepar

ed pan and press into an even layer, using your fingertips,the back of a spoon or a spatula. Spread chocolate chips in a layer on the graham crackers. Spread pecans in a layer on the chocolate chips. Spread coconut in a layer on top. Pour sweetened condensed milk over everything.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until

coconut is golden brown.
Cool completely before slicing.
Bars can be served at room temperature or chilled. Sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on top.

Makes 25 squares.


  1. What a deeply moving experience - thank you for sharing!

  2. Jessica, you are the greatest, and He has looked at you!!

  3. How very, very beautiful. We miss you so much!