Fr. James' Letters

February 6, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

I mentioned in my Sunday homily last weekend how our continuous second reading from Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is oddly interrupted between the 4th and 5th Sundays in Ordinary Time. Last week we read chapter 13: the hymn on love. This week we read chapter 15: the kerygma (basic outline of Christ's life: how he died, rose, established Peter and Paul as apostles in the Church). What about chapter 14?

At the end of chapter 12, Paul writes, "Brothers and sisters: Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way." And then he digresses and talks about love. (OK, maybe not a digression if you're a romantic.) What is the 'greatest spiritual gift'? The answer is in chapter 14.

"Pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, above all that you may prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1). Ah, there we are. Preaching and prophesying is the great gift of the Holy Spirit, and the great gift of love we both give to God and one another.

Fitting, for we see this in our first reading this weekend, about Isaiah having his lips purified with a coal so he can preach well (cf. Isaiah 6:1-8). In the Gospel scene, we read, "While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God..." (Luke 5:1, emphasis mine). Jesus is preaching to the people, and his preaching is giving them life. The apostles will be called to do the same thing. "Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men'" (Luke 5:11). They will "catch men" by their preaching and their love.

Saint Paul goes on to write this: "One who prophesies speaks to human being, for their building up, encouragement, and solace… [and] for building up the church" (1 Corinthians 4: 3,12).

Our preaching builds up the Church. But the key to preaching is praying. Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day we celebrated last week, called it contemplatio aliis tradere. "We hand on what we contemplate."

If you find me rambling in my homily about the Bears or something, then I probably haven't prayed. God gives me the message in my homily, and my "homily preparation" is primarily not in front of a book but in front of the tabernacle.

We all have to speak, in one way or another: in a conference room, at the dinner table, on the phone. We want to say something interesting. We want to say what God wants to say. We can only do that if we pray. If we pray and say something interesting (God's message), then we can be assured we are loving our neighbor.

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Next Saturday, February 12th Saint Paul of the Cross is hosting the "St. John Paul II Eucharistic Adoration Association" meeting. Bishop Bartosic will celebrate the Saturday 8:30am Mass that morning, and the program begins at 9am with registration and a continental breakfast in the Holy Family Chapel. The program consists of talks on Eucharistic Adoration and Perpetual Adoration chapels by Bishop Bartosic and Stephen Hegarty, the president of the Association. It will conclude at noon.

All are welcome to attend.

In last week's bulletin I gave an update on our mid-year financials, so please take a look if you missed it and are interested to see how we're doing. Again, you'll see on page 2 a new feature of our bulletin — a weekly stewardship report. You may recall the Baby Bottle fundraiser to support the Women's Center we held last fall, led by the Respect Life committee. We raised $26,113.26 for the Women's Center. This amount is over $6,000 more than we've raised in any previous year. Thank you so much for your generosity. We are an amazingly gracious and loving parish.  

Finally, the 2022 Archdiocesan Annual Catholic Appeal is beginning. You may have already received a letter in the mail with a pledge envelope. The commitment weekend will be on February 20th, and thank you in advance for your contribution. Our parish's goal this year is $123,960. Last year the parish raised $182,000, nearly $50,000 over last year's goal. Again, amazing. Thank you. This collection is very important for the Archdiocese to support parishes who are struggling in poorer areas, so your support goes a very long way.

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