Fr. James' Letters

February 27, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

I mentioned this in a recent Daily podcast homily, but before the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel at Mass, he traces on the text the sign of the cross with his thumb, and then proceeds to trace his forehead, lips, and heart with the cross. You all in the pews do the same, when you respond, “Glory to you, O Lord.” You trace the cross on your forehead, lips, and heart. May the word of the Lord be on your mind, on your lips, and always in your heart.

I find it interesting that we trace the cross. We could simply just touch our forehead, lips, and heart. We could trace them with some other symbol, like a heart or a peace-sign. I remember in grade school kids used to put an “L” on their foreheads for “Loser.” Not nice. I’m glad we don’t do that anymore (at least I don’t think we do), and I’m glad we don’t do that at Mass. Though I give you permission to flash that symbol at me next time I give a lame reference in my homily.

No, we trace the cross: the symbol of self-denial, of offering, and, ultimately, of love.

“So too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind,” says the Book of Sirach from our first reading (Sirach 27:6).

If your mind is filled with some unholy thoughts or images, try tracing the sign of the cross on it. If your lips speak cusses or gossip, seal your lips with the cross. And if your heart is struggling to find passion and love for God, imprint that mark.

On Wednesday, with the start of Lent, we will have a visible mark of ash on our forehead. Wear that ash proudly, whether it is at work or at school. When coworkers or students look weirdly at you or make a comment (“hey, you got dirt on your forehead”), don’t be embarrassed and don’t remove the ash from your face. People will know you’re a Catholic.

But what about the other days of the year when we don’t have something visibly on our foreheads? Yes, there is that sign of the cross. Trace it as much and as often as you need to. May the people around you know you are a Catholic by your holy thoughts, your gracious words, and your loving heart.

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The parish book club will meet this Monday, February 28th at 7:30pm. We will be discussing two books, Hannah Coulter and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as we postponed those book discussion meetings that were to take place in January. Stay tuned for our next selection.

Lent begins this Wednesday, March 2nd. Please see the bulletin for the Ash Wednesday schedule, as well as the other spiritual opportunities we will be offering during the season. Please also take with you a little Lenten prayer book we will have at the entrances in the church.

To prepare for Lent, the school will be having on Tuesday a palm burning ceremony in the “safe zone” at 8:15am. Catechesis will have Stations of the Cross and Adoration on Tuesday both for the afternoon and evening sessions. On Saturday, March 5th, Catechesis will have a special Mass for the second graders to help them prepare to make their First Communion in May.

Friday, March 4th is the Knights of Columbus fish fry, as well as the SPC Men’s Club bocce ball event. There will also be Stations of the Cross at 7:30pm that evening.

Thank you again for your support of this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. Last week at all the Masses we listened to the Cardinal’s homily and conducted the in-pew solicitation. Our parish’s goal this year is $123,960. I’m very grateful for your contributions that will help us attain our goal.

We introduced in last week’s bulletin, Mr. Nick Testa, our new "Parish Evangelization and Business Manager." Welcome to the staff, Nick. Please read more about Nick and his role if you missed it.

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