Fr. James' Letters

August 8, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

When the Cubs had the firesale of players last week, I was tempted to do what Elijah from our first reading did: just sit down under a broom tree and wish I were dead. First Rizzo, then Bryant, then Baez. Then Aaron Rogers came back to the Packers. “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).

But then I thought better of it. Life is more important than the Chicago Cubs. And what do I, Father James Wallace, have anything to do with the Cubs? It's not my team and these aren't my players. It's not like I personally have failed because the Cubs waived the white flag. Sure, I regret now all those times I taunted White Sox fans over the past six years, but this failure of the Cubs is not my fault. And it's certainly not the end of my life. So, I picked myself up, celebrated Mass, and have gone on with my life. 

When I was feeling bad about the Cubs, I was in a self-referential state. It was about me and my life being miserable because my team is miserable. Once I broke myself out of the self-absorption, I was able to be more at peace.

Elijah is in a state of despair. He is sort of like the Cubs at the trade deadline. He's failed. He murdered the prophets of Baal and is fleeing for his life. He has lost everything. And he wants to die because he thinks he is a failure. Not only does he have nothing to live for, he thinks, but he's undesirable because of these failings.

But none of that is true. Yes, Elijah failed, but that doesn't make him a failure. He is still God's chosen prophet, God's beloved son. And Elijah will go on to do powerful deeds and eventually be by Christ's side at the Transfiguration.

Elijah is self-absorbed, listening to lies about his worthlessness, when he's sitting down under that broom tree. God breaks him from the self-absorption. Notice when the angel comes to help Elijah, the angel doesn't undergo some psychoanalysis. He doesn't say, "Ok, Elijah, let's talk about how you're feeling. Tell me about your relationship with your father..." No. The angel simply tells Elijah, "Get up and eat!".

Elijah needs to get out of his head. He needs to eat and just focus on the mission ahead of him that God has laid out.

There are times in the spiritual life when we do need to 'be in our heads.' That is, there are times we do need to acknowledge our feelings and talk them over with God. But there are other times that can be bad. It can cause us to despair and feel worse about ourselves. And so we simply need to act: go to Mass, pray the rosary, read the Bible and stop thinking. 

I didn't need to talk to God about my feelings about the pathetic Cubs. I just needed to forget about it and literally go say Mass. The hearthcake that Elijah ate that broke him out of his depression and gave him strength was a precursor, by the way, for the Eucharist.

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As I mentioned last week, the St. Paul of the Cross book club will be joining up with the St. Juliana book club, and our first book together will be The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin. We'll keep you posted on the time and location of the discussion, but go ahead and obtain the book and start reading!

I want to express once again my gratitude for the incredibly warm welcome I've received from you. Many of you have sent me notes, including birthday cards, and dinner invitations. And the beer and cigars have been flowing. I have to double my exercise routine, but it's worth it. It makes me, and Father Nick as well, feel loved, so we're very grateful. This is a great parish and I feel very blessed to be here.

And thank you to all who have donated religious artwork for the rectory. If you have a nice piece that you'd like to find a home for, we're happy to take it off your hands.

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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Contact Information

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)

Saturday

8:00 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC and HFC) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC and HFC)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)