Fr. James' Letters

September 19, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

I was texted a video the other day of my four-year-old nephew Sebastian explaining what a crucifix was and why the soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. Sebbie is very intrigued by the Catholic faith and apparently, like his uncle, enjoys teaching it to others.

The video was adorable and I found myself laughing as Sebbie was making some creative claims (also like his uncle). "The cwoosifix had to be weighed so Jesus didn't fall over," said Sebbie, pointing to the base.  And, then, indicating upwards, "the soldiers put Jesus' head down so it would be easier."

As I prayed over Jesus' gesture and words in this Gospel, I thought about Sebbie. "Taking a child, Jesus placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me'" (Mark 9:36-37).

Maybe there is something I can learn from my little nephew. Sebbie's discourse on the "cwoosifix" is not something to just find cute and funny, but something to actually receive. Jesus tells us to receive children, and thereby receive him; that is, listen to children and take them seriously.

Sebbie wasn't afraid of the crucifix. He wasn't repulsed by Jesus' death. In fact, the video was taken in a cemetery, which is adjacent to Sebbie's school. They were walking through the cemetery looking at the monuments and crosses. Sebbie was okay with this.

The adult disciples, on the other hand, were scared away by the prospect of Jesus' death. "They were afraid to question him," (Mark 9:32) when Jesus talked about being crucified. A child does not shy away from the cross. Nor should we.

The disciples, as they were walking with Jesus, argued amongst themselves about who was the greatest. Sebbie was simply talking about Jesus and the crosses (and "Mother Mary," as he says). He wasn't arguing with his older brother Luke, aged 7, about who was smarter or more beloved. Little children don't care about status. They keep their eyes on Jesus. So should we.

Finally, the disciples watch Jesus put his arms lovingly around a child. They see Jesus delight in the simplicity and purity of the boy/girl. Sebbie might not have felt it, and the video couldn't capture it, but he was being hugged by Jesus there. Jesus says on another occasion, "See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father" (Matthew 18:10). Sebbie was being hugged through his angel. He was being hugged in his soul by the Lord. I could see that. And Sebbie allowed himself to be hugged. 

We too are hugged by the Lord. May we allow ourselves to be delighted in by God. May we be like children.

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We continue our Monday Evening of Prayer. If you are able to join us for Evening Prayer at 5:30pm, after exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, please take a bulletin with you. We've included Evening Prayer for you. Even if you can't make it to church, consider praying Evening Prayer at some point on Monday. Also, I've recorded my talks on prayer. They can be found online under the podcast title "Heirs of the Kingdom."

That Man is You begins this Monday, September 20th at 7:45pm. If you are a man interested in a group that prays together and has conversation around deeper issues, please consider joining the group.

The SPC Bible Study is returning. The group will meet this week in Duffin Hall. And speaking of groups returning, it was great to hear our adult choir at Mass last weekend. Thank you to Ed and Andrea, and Carrie in HFC, for doing a wonderful job with our music.

As you have seen, there will be no 4:30pm HFC Mass on Saturday September 25 and October 2. Our Mass attendance numbers are still well-below our pre-covid average, and so we may look to eliminate (temporarily) the 4:30pm and 9am HFC Mass. With only two priests, the simultaneous Masses are difficult and perhaps not the best use of our resources when we can easily fit everyone upstairs. We would, however, bring back the Sunday 5pm Mass. Feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts on this. We haven't decided yet and will obviously communicate with you all if and when the Mass schedule change would take effect. 

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)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)