Fr. James' Letters

October 24, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

My office at Mundelein Seminary, where I teach, is located in the library, and outside my office door is this icon (see image below). It is named "Virgin of Tenderness II." When I'm waiting for appointments — spiritual directees or students to torture — I will gaze upon this beautiful image of the Blessed Mother.

In person, the icon is striking. It is large and the gold really envelops you. It almost makes you feel like you're in a vault with gold bullion. Heaven is the real Fort Knox and the Blessed Mother is the Ark of the Covenant who we will see, with her Son, when we die.

Two features of Jesus in the icon are noteworthy. First, his right hand caresses his mother's cheek. Jesus is looking at his mother, while Mary looks at us, and his hand almost holds her face up. She holds and protects Jesus, but he also holds and protects her.

More than protecting, though, Jesus' hand is admiring the beauty of his mother. The way a lover will hold the other lover's face, Jesus holds Mary's face in tenderness. He is enamored and appreciating his Lady. 

We are called to imitate Christ. That is what being a Christian is. Well, if Jesus was enamored with and appreciated Mary, then we are called to do so too. She is our Lady.

Second, the feet of Jesus dangle off Mary's arm. It is like he is on a swing. 

Think back to when you were last on a swing; or, perhaps when you were last pushing a child on a swing (like last week when I was pushing seminarian Kevin on a swing… just kidding). Once you get started on a swing, it is only simple leg efforts (or pushes) that keep you going. You don't need to do a lot. When we are "swinging" in the spiritual life, simple moments with Mary keep us going. 

God tells us in our first reading to "shout with joy." He will "console and guide us" (Jeremiah 31:7-9). Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus and leaps up with joy. If we want to experience similar consolations and elevations, we ought to pray with Mary, particularly in this month dedicated to her.

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As I mentioned, I've had the pleasure of meeting with several of the women's guilds in the parish. Thank you for the invitations. At the noon Mass this Sunday, October 24th, members of the Mystical Rose Guild will be present to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the guild! Congratulations, Mystical Rose members. 

So many of you have signed up for rectory dinners on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and I wanted to take a moment to thank you all. And thank you for those who are signed up for future meals. Father Nick and I are very grateful. Father Derek Ho and Father Matt Foley from MSW come over to SPC on Tuesday afternoon to join us for prayer and dinner, and then on Saturday we have them, in addition to a few other priests (Fr. Hank Lyon, Fr. Tim Anastos, and others) and the seminarians. Your dinners have been delicious and are much appreciated. And typically any desserts that are leftover I give to the seminarians I teach canon law on Tuesdays, so, on their behalf, thank you as well. SPC is feeding many of the clergy of the Archdiocese!

The Parish Pastoral Council will meet tomorrow, Monday, October 25th at 7:30pm. Please reach out to Patti Nowak if you have any suggestions or ideas for the Council to consider. As PC members announced at Masses a few weekends ago, we will continue to monitor and dialogue about our Mass schedule. The School Board will meet on Tuesday at 6:30pm. This will be an Executive Session only. The school's Fun Fair is this Friday.

I was invited to attend a trip down to Puerto Rico with members of the Catholic Extension Society and Cardinal Cupich, so I will be away this week Tuesday through Thursday. 

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