Fr. James' Letters

January 9, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

"He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street" (Isaiah 42:1-2).

Our Lord was mostly silent throughout his life. And when he spoke, I would imagine he did not yell. I imagine Jesus spoke with a firm and gentle authority.

I could learn from our Lord. Maybe you as well. I have this strange notion that the louder I say something the more likely it will be heard and accomplished. I'm like an amateur football coach. It's the thought that simply screaming "Let's go!" at a player will get them to tackle better, throw more accurately, run faster. If only I knew the TV was not a two-way sound device and the Bears players/coaches cannot hear me screaming at them.

But even then, screaming is not necessary. Jesus 'got the job done' (i.e., brought forth justice to the nations) without having his voice heard in the street. Yes, our Lord truly "spoke softly and carried a big stick." He carried the cross.

One time we hear Jesus "cried out in a loud voice" was when he said from the cross, "Into your hands, Father, I commend my spirit" (Matthew 27:46). Again, I can't imagine he spoke this like Mike Ditka speaking to Jim Harbaugh. 

Another time Jesus "cried out" was when he said in the temple, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). Our Lord was compelled when he said this, surely, but not forceful. 

I find myself "yelling" a lot interiorly in my spiritual life. It's not like I hear voices or am talking to myself. It's more of an attitude in my heart where I'm crying out to the Lord for something I don't think is happening. The more I want it and the more I think it's not happening, the more forceful and insistent I become. "C'mon, Jesus," I'll feel my heart speaking, "make me holy!" Or, "let's go, Lord, SHOW ME WHAT TO DO TO BRING MORE SOULS TO CHURCH!" And I'll grow anxious.

The invitation, rather, is to breathe in deeply, make the petition calmly, and then let it go. 'Letting it go' means quieting the mind and heart and receiving whatever Jesus wants to give; not thinking any more about the details of the issue. Doing that does not bring anxiety, but serenity.

Imagine the scene of the Father speaking from heaven down to his son at the Jordan River in the baptism of the Lord. "After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased'" (Luke 3:21-22). 

Luke's account is slightly different. In the others, God the Father speaks immediately after Jesus comes up out of the waters. In Luke, there's a period of time that passes between the actual baptism and the Father speaking. "Jesus also had been baptized and was praying..." Jesus is praying quietly, receiving the Father's love in a posture of surrender and serenity, and then the Father speaks. And, again, we can't imagine the Father screaming, "YOU ARE MY BELOVED SON, BOY!" No. The Father says it with gentle authority. Jesus learned how to speak from his Father.

God doesn't yell at us and we don't need to yell at him. God also doesn't yell at our society or our church. It doesn't mean God approves of everything out there, but he makes us holy through gentler means. 

I'm going to try to not shout out as much this 2022. Maybe you can join me.

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The SPC Bible Study is beginning a new series next week, an 8-part Bible Study on the Letter to the Hebrews. More information, including registration, is in the bulletin. The Bible Study meets Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in Duffin Hall. Thanks to George Kirkland for organizing this group.

Father Nick is hosting a training/refresher for Lectors and EMs on Tuesday and Wednesday this upcoming week.

I’m grateful to our SPC Respect Life Committee that yesterday went down to the Chicago March for Life in the cold weather.

A reminder that the Saturday morning daily Mass is now at 8:30am. 

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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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605

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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 and HFC) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)