Fr. James' Letters

January 2, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

There are generally two movements that occur in the spiritual life: the interior and exterior movement. The interior movement could be categorized as our personal relationship with God. We are friends, lovers, and companions of Christ. The Holy Spirit unites our hearts to Jesus. Our personal relationship is alive when we pray individually and when we receive the Eucharist. The relationship can also be touched when we are struck by something naturally beautiful, be it in the environment or in art.

The exterior movement is what God calls us to do outwardly with our lives, as his disciples. We serve others, we evangelize, we teach, and we guide. These are all works that follow from our identity as beloved sons and daughters and spouses of God; from our personal relationship. The exterior flows out from the interior. 

In this 'exterior realm' we are all called to be fathers and mothers. Even if you're not called to be a biological parent (like me), you are still called to be a mother or father. "Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses" (Isaiah 60:4). 

I wonder if it's hard(er), maybe even weird(er), to be considered spiritual fathers and mothers. Parenting a son or daughter is difficult, make no mistake, but to "parent" someone who is not your progeny can be strange. And particularly strange if that person is not similar to you or is older than you or something else.

But that is what we are called to do: to be spiritual fathers and mothers to one another. Many of you, I would bet, are already doing this. You are a mentor to someone. You are an inspiration, you are an influence, you are a model. You are a mother and father.

Consider for a moment to whom you are a mother or father. It doesn't have to be in a massively dramatic way. It could've been the mailman to whom you offered a drink of water or a listening ear. 

That can be your personal epiphany on this feast of the Epiphany: that you are a spiritual mother or father. Know that your spiritual parentage makes God the Father very proud. It also makes you beautiful. "Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow" (Isaiah 60:5). 

When I'm acting as a spiritual father, be it in spiritual direction or preaching or visiting the sick and dying, the actual moment is very difficult. I'm trying to be an open vessel for the Lord to do his work; trying not mess up; trying to focus on the person before me and let go of my own needs; and so on. It's hard. But afterwards, I look back on the occasion and see how blessed it was. It is a blessing to be a father; a blessing to love someone, to support them, and to bring them closer to Jesus.

I can't attest personally, obviously, but I know being a biological father is very fulfilling, though it has its challenges. Many of you know this. But I can attest the same about being a spiritual father. It is challenging but very rewarding. You are all called to be spiritual fathers and mothers, so, please, accept that calling. That is how we will make our world more peaceful and holy.

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Our Mass schedule returns to normal next weekend (Saturday 4:30pm HFC & UC; Sunday 7:30am UC, 9am UC, 10:30am HFC & UC, 12pm UC). However, we will be moving the daily Saturday morning Mass to 8:30am. The feedback we received was that it was better to keep the daily Mass time consistent with the rest of the week, and that 8:30am, as opposed to 8am, gives folks a little more time in the morning to get ready for Mass.

The parish book club will be meeting tomorrow, Monday, January 3rd at 7:30pm to discuss Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. The next book club discussion will be on Monday, January 24th to discuss The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

I look forward to celebrating a special Mass with our 8th grade Catechesis students this Tuesday at 7:30pm. 

My prayers for you all for a blessed 2022. May it be a year of increased love for our Lord.

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)

12:00 pm (HFC)