Fr. James' Letters

August 15, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

A priest makes a promise at Ordination to pray every day of his life the Liturgy of the Hours. One of the "hours" is Evening Prayer, and at Evening Prayer we pray the Magnificat. This is in our Gospel for the Assumption today: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord" (Luke 1:46-55). I've prayed the Magnificat every evening now for over ten years — since the time I entered seminary — so I've had a lot of time to reflect on this beautiful passage.

But before I offer some simple thoughts, not only would I encourage you today and this week to try praying this passage, I would encourage you to try listening to it.  Many, many composers over the centuries have made music set to these words. Johann Sebastian Bach's is certainly one of the more well-known and beautiful compositions, as is Antonio Vivaldi's. Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky have beautiful pieces as well. If you are more into polyphonic chant, or want to sample it, listen to Thomas Tallis or William Byrd's Magnificat. I find these particularly moving. 

Mary magnifies God. That is, everything about Mary points to God; reflects him. 

This is why Mary's entire body could be immediately taken up to Heaven at the end of her earthly life. She needed no purification. She is the Immaculate Conception and she was ready for Heaven every moment of her life. She was, in a way, Heaven. Jesus is Heaven and Jesus, of course, was in Mary.

When we pray with Mary, we are experiencing Heaven. That is why beautiful music is so fitting to accompany our spiritual lives, for beautiful music is an experience or taste of Heaven.

These pieces that I mentioned above, and others, magnify God. They are sublime and when we listen to them we have an experience of the transcendent. They move us outside of ourselves and evoke feelings of the Truth in our soul.

Music makes us feel good. It makes us happy. That is why so many people go to Lollapalooza. Well, if we want to be truly happy and everlastingly fulfilled, Mary and music honoring her is where we should direct our hearts and ears.

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The start of school is right around the corner. I look forward to celebrating a special Mass for the teachers tomorrow, Monday, August 16. Welcome back, staff and teachers, and thank you in advance for your hard work this year.

The Men's Club bags tournament is this Friday, August 20th at 5pm in the parking lot. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to socialize with some of the men's club members at the Harp & Fiddle last week at an organized ‘meet and greet’ for me. 

I likewise look forward to a ‘meet and greet’ with the Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Council, and School Board in a couple weeks on August 30th. Thank you to the members who serve on these councils, especially Patti Nowak, the chair of the Pastoral Council. Our parish and school would not be as strong as it is without your ideas, leadership, and support.

You may have seen some young men around the parish and serving at Mass over the last few weeks. These would be our seminarians, men training to be priests. I was blessed to be assigned seminarians while I was at Saint Juliana and they will now be with us at Saint Paul. We'll introduce them more formally over the upcoming weeks, but they are: Kevin Gregus (3rd Theology, Chicago), Martin Nyberg (2nd Theology, Chicago), Pepe Sandoval (1st Theology, Chicago), Lee Noel (1st Theology, Cheyenne, Wyoming), and John Rahimi (2nd Pre-Theology, Chicago). You may have seen John around this summer serving Mass (he has a shaved head and beard). We're blessed to have the seminarians, and I'm happy that Saint Paul will be considered a teaching parish to form young priests. These seminarians will not only help serve Mass, but they'll work throughout the year with our other programs, including RE, the school, RCIA, and so forth. They'll also be staying in the rectory over the weekends, so thank you to those who have contributed to the artwork, the man cave, and the beer and food supply!

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


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