Fr. James' Letters

January 16, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

"Don't spoil your dinner." That was something I often heard growing up. Dinner starts in about half an hour, there's a pack of frozen White Castle sliders in the fridge, Mrs. Wallace sees her impetuous second son making what he thinks is a clandestine move to the fridge, and resounding through the kitchen comes, "James, dinner is almost ready. Please wait."

So hard for me. I love to eat and when I see something out that looks good — sweets on the rectory counter that a parishioner has dropped off, a week-old slice of Malnati's pizza in the fridge, a delicious pear in a seminarian's hand that he's about to bite into — I'm tempted to grab it and consume. It doesn't matter the day or the hour.

This, as you can imagine, is not good for me. Not just for my health. It spoils what awaits me. And something better usually awaits me.

The best wine at Cana came at the end. The wine in the meanwhile was good, I'm sure, but it wasn't the best. Think about it. If the wedding guests had overindulged on the inferior wine and even become drunk, they would not have been able to enjoy the Lord's vintage. 

There are a couple keys to "success" in resisting the shiny object dangling before us.

First is listening to the voice of God. Don't just grab the "food" right before you. Stop and ask God if this is what he wants for you or if he has something better in store so that you should pass for now. My mom saying, "don't spoil your dinner," was like the voice of God or wisdom helping me discern: don't eat the freezer-burned slider, wait for the more delicious dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. We need to pray. We need to ask God what he wants for us. He will show us.

The second key is recognizing that if God is telling us to wait, suffering will ensue. We have to suffer for a brief period of time while we hold off for the main course or the superior wine. But we are strong. We can endure the suffering. And the suffering will be good for us. Not all suffering is bad.

The bottom line is: we don't have to settle. Speaking of marriages, since this Gospel is the Wedding Feast of Cana, we all know of people who "settled" for a partner in marriage. The individual was desperate to marry or was acting out of a place of fear, and they settled on someone they didn't really love and who wasn't good for them. If the individual could have paused, discerned the will of God and endured the suffering of remaining single while still searching for their soulmate, they would have been far better off.

We can apply this to other areas of our lives. It's easier and more instantly gratifying to flip through the phone than read the Bible. It's more rewarding to sleep in or play golf on Sunday morning than go to Mass. More relaxing to say "I'm sorry" to God before falling asleep than going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation before a priest. 

Don't settle for these instant rewards. Hold off for the Lord's wine. Sure, take a few sips of the "party wine" in this life, but don't have too much. The Lord's wine waits for you in Heaven.

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There will be a First Communion parent meeting on Tuesday at 7pm. Next week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening we have First Reconciliation for our 2nd grade school and catechesis students. Please check your emails for any updates.

The Pastoral Council will also meet Tuesday evening at 7:30pm. I want to give a special shout out to Patti Nowak, the PC president. Patti has worked tremendously hard to help ensure smooth operations at the parish, from coaching altar servers, to organizing the ushers for Christmas Masses, to planning Fr. Britto's 40th Anniversary reception last month, and more. I'm grateful to Patti and all the PC members for their help and dedication.

Finally, Saturday, January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Please say a prayer for all the unborn and for mothers. 

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