Fr. James' Letters

July 25, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

Today, July 25th, is my birthday.  More importantly, it is the feast of Saint James (the Greater). Yes, this is how I received my name. I was born on the feast of Saint James. 

This is the greatest gift my parents gave me: my name. I've always had a special devotion to Saint James and I know James has been praying for me throughout my life. I wouldn't be a priest without my patron's intercession.

Often when I pray, I will invoke my imagination with the Scriptures. This, by the way, is called imaginative contemplation, something Saint Ignatius of Loyola developed. We picture the scene of a Scripture passage and invoke our senses in our imagination: hearing Jesus speak, feeling the sand beneath our feet, tasting the falafel and red wine (ok, that's my imagination), and so forth. The Holy Spirit communicates to us by what arises in our imagination. Maybe Jesus speaks a particular word to us or something unique happens in the scene. What is going on in our mind is not strictly in the Sacred Text — the Bible is pretty barebones, and for a reason — but it's valid nonetheless.

I always picture myself as Saint James in the scenes with the Lord, for James was an apostle and James would have been present in these events. Here we have the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Now, James isn't specifically mentioned as a main player in the scene. Philip and Andrew are. (If your name is Philip or Andrew, then I insist you spend time praying with this scene — God certainly wants to say something to you.) James doesn't have much to do.

Or does he? Check out this part after the miracle: "When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.' So they collected them..." (John 6:12-13).

There were twelve wicker baskets, so presumably each apostle had one basket. James went around with a wicker basket and collected the leftovers.

Saint James, patron saint of leftovers! Now it makes sense to me. I love leftovers. (I feel like I talk a lot about food.) Don't get me wrong, I love fresh food, but there's something very satisfying to me about polishing off leftovers. I hate wasting. I am not a keeper and I throw other stuff away — material items — but throwing food away is hard for me, particularly meals that were made by you all! And I will never throw away leftover Malnati's pizza or White Castle. I'd sooner put on an Aaron Rogers jersey and cheesehead than throw away those pearls of great price.

I digress. I feel today, in my love for leftovers, somewhat vindicated by our Lord and by my patron. This point of gathering the fragments did not have to be mentioned by John, the Gospel writer (and brother of James). But it was.  Jesus did not let the leftovers go to waste. Who knows what they did with those twelve wicker baskets? As the multitude was dispersing, perhaps each apostle found a needy family or individual and gave them the basket of food. Perhaps the apostles took the baskets with them on the boat and gave them to the next town.

Whatever the case may be, there is something beautiful, something holy, in those leftovers. Sure, leftovers never taste quite as good as the original (though, for some reason I do like cold spaghetti), but they serve the purpose. They feed us and they remind us of the person who fed us. A leftover is a continuation of love and generosity and appreciation and nourishment.

We are leftovers. It so happens that in the New Testament the Greek word for "fragment" also means "people." We are the fragments of the saints. We might not appear initially as good as the "fresh food," but can be just as effective.

Saint James has gathered me up into his wicker basket and he's carrying me to the Kingdom. Your patron saint is doing the same for you!

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If you missed last week’s bulletin, if you would like to donate any religious artwork for the rectory, please drop it off at the parish office. Thank you to those who have already donated some of your beautiful pieces.

Yours in Christ,

Who is Fr. James?

Father James Wallace grew up in Winnetka, Illinois and attended Sts. Faith Hope and Charity grammar school, New Trier High School, and then The George Washington University in Washington DC, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 2007. He attended seminary at The Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained a priest in 2012 for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition to being the pastor of Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, he serves as a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese, a dean in Vicariate II, and a professor of canon law and spiritual director at Mundelein Seminary. He is also one of the featured Mercy Home Sunday Mass celebrants, airing Sundays at 9:30am on WGN.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

UC = Upper Church
HFC = Holy Family Chapel 

Monday - Friday

6:25 am UC

8:30 am UC


8:30 am UC - weekday Mass

4:30 pm UC - vigil


7:30 am UC

9:00 am UC

10:30 am UC and HFC

12:00 pm UC