Fr. James' Letters

December 26, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

A few weeks ago in my bulletin letter (3rd Sunday of Advent) I brought up poverty. It is one of the evangelical counsels. Well, I'd like to bring up another one of the evangelical counsels: obedience. It's certainly a virtue required for homes and family life, and today is the Feast of the Holy Family. Saint Paul writes, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). And we hear in our Gospel, after the finding in the temple, that Jesus "went down with [Mary and Joseph] and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them" (Luke 2:51). 

Obedience is more than just following orders. It has to be more. Again, a priest makes a promise of obedience, which means obedience is fundamental to his identity. But he rarely gets orders. Once every six or twelve years he has to move parishes, and there's obedience in that, but a component of identity isn't a ‘once-in-six-years event.’ It would be odd if a husband only told his wife once every six years he loved her. Obedience has to be more than just the occasional summoning to do something. Even if Cardinal Cupich called me daily and told me to do something, like do cartwheels while whistling Peter and the Wolf, that wouldn't be all there is to obedience. 

André Louf, in The Cistercian Way, writes this: 

The monk does not have to wait to be given an order before he obeys. Much more profound and demanding, his commitment rather puts him instead in a ceaseless condition of obedience. The monk is in a state of obedience as we speak of a state of grace. All relationships and all situations are approached in this same state of soul.

There is a reason the root of the word "obedience" in Latin is "to listen." When we are listening, we are in a state or condition of receptivity. Obedience, Louf says above, is a "ceaseless condition." We are committed to someone and ready, when the time comes, to follow their commands.

Abraham in the Old Testament is the model of obedience. Note the scene when God summons him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham is sitting around when, one random and sudden day, God calls to him. Abraham's immediate response is, "ready!" (Genesis 22:2). Abraham had been waiting, listening, and focused on God. He was in a state of obedience.

Jesus was obedient to his father Joseph. Again, it wasn't like Joseph was constantly giving orders to his son to dig ditches and fill them back up again. No. Jesus was around his father, loving him, listening to him, and ready to act whenever the command came.

Saint Stephen, whose feast day is December 26th, was a model of obedience. In loving the Lord and focusing his eyes and ears on Heaven, he was led to the circle to be stoned. The Holy Innocents, whose feast day we celebrate on Tuesday this week, were also models of obedience. They were the babies slaughtered by Herod. They couldn't help but listen to and focus and be dependent on God. A baby, by nature, cannot be independent and disobedient.

Obedience would be a good "New Year's Resolution." The way to be obedient, fundamentally, is to be in a continual posture of focus on God. This is the life of prayer. If we pray and listen to God, we will be ready to act when he calls us. And we will be blessed in our actions.

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Thank you to all who made the Advent season and Christmas celebrations not only possible, but beautiful: Ed, Andrea, Carrie and the musicians; the altar servers, their “coaches,” and the seminarians; the sacristans, ushers, decorators, collection counters; and so many others. I also want to thank the parish staff for their hard work during the season. God bless you all for your efforts and dedication.

The Mass schedule next weekend will be slightly different, with Saturday, January 1st being both New Years and Mary, Mother of God, which is not a holy day of obligation this year. On Friday, December 31st, we will have just one Mass at 8:30am. On Saturday, January 1st, Mass for Mary, Mother of God will be at 9am. There will be no confessions that Saturday at 3pm and we will have just one evening Mass: 4:30pm UC. Sunday, January 2nd will be: 7:30am UC, 9am UC, 10:30am UC, and noon UC. 

We will still have Monday Evening of Prayer with Eucharistic Adoration in church this Monday, December 27th.

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