Fr. James' Letters

December 12, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

John the Baptist instructs the people to eliminate their excess. “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none… and whoever has food should do likewise… stop collecting more than what is prescribed… be satisfied with your wages” (Luke 3:10-18).

John is not instructing the people to give away everything, just the extra. He is not telling people to be destitute and have nothing to their names. He is telling them, rather, to accept what they have.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about poverty. I keep bringing it up in conversation with my priest friends and seminarians. I think they’re getting sick of me. Poverty is one of the evangelical counsels. Chastity and obedience are the others. Religious men and women take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Diocesan priests make promises of chastity and obedience (and prayer). But we don’t make a promise, let alone a vow, of poverty. 

That bothers me. I feel drawn to poverty. I feel drawn to live humbly. Yet, this isn’t strictly part of my calling as a diocesan priest. I have to live in the world and function: own a car, save for retirement (not sure if that will ever happen), pay taxes. 

And yet I think I can live a spirit of poverty. How? Well, I can start with the Baptist’s advice: eliminate the extras and be satisfied with what I have. 

Now, I don’t have a ton of “extras” in terms of material possessions (ok, maybe some extra tee-shirts, but that’s about it). So, I turn the concept of ‘eliminating the extra’ to the spiritual life. 

I’m always wanting more in my spiritual life. I want more time in prayer. I want more consolations, more graces, more affective movements, more insights into the Scriptures, more clarity on my life and ministry. To be poor spiritually is to accept where I am and to accept what the Lord has chosen to give me at this point in my life. I can be “satisfied with my spiritual wages.” I can be at rest and stop working for more. I can trust in what God has in store for me. I can beg him for more, sure, but then let it go and wait.

“The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals” (Zephaniah 4:17). The Lord rejoices over me not because I have become so spiritually advanced and mature. The Lord rejoices over me right now because I am pathetic and poor and simply trusting in him.

Advent and Christmas is very much a time when we try to enrich ourselves, to ‘get the extra’: more clothes, more video games, more toys. We don’t need it. We can be poor. We can be like Jesus.

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Once again, the Social Services Ministry is continuing to collect $25 and $50 Walmart gift cards which we will distribute to needy families prior to Christmas. And Oplatki Christmas wafers are on sale in the rectory office and in the sacristy in between Masses.

Catechesis has its Christmas Pageant this Tuesday at 4pm in the church. And on Friday, December 17th there will be a special SPC School Christmas Mass at 10am in the church. The school is off next week for Christmas break.

Father Britto will celebrate his 40th Anniversary to the Priesthood next Sunday, December 19th at the 10:30am UC Mass. Please join me in congratulating and praying for Father Britto. Thank you for your years of service!

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

8:30 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC)

10:30 am (UC)

12:00 pm (HFC)