Fr. James' Letters

March 6, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

We find a very interesting ritual prescription in the first reading. When the Israelites offer a basket of goods at the altar in their "liturgy" (like our offertory at Mass), they are to say this: A wandering Aramean was my father (Deuteronomy 26:5).

Jesus gave us specific formulas to recite during some of the sacraments — I baptize you in the name of the Father… Do this in memory of me — so formulas aren't unfamiliar to us. The question is, why would Moses dictate this specific formula? Why 'the wandering Aramean'? And why are we reading about it this first Sunday of Lent?

Aramean. 'Aramean' is not the best term or feature that could have been used to describe Jacob or Abraham. 'Israelite' would have been more glorious. But Abraham and his grandson Jacob did indeed have Aramean blood in them. They were identified with the more humbling aspect of their heritage.

Jesus became man. Man is a fallen, sinful creature. Man is susceptible to temptation. Jesus, of course, was without sin, but he allowed himself to be tempted by the devil. He identified with the more humbling aspect of his being, the way Moses did his people with the 'Aramean.'

Wandering. 'Wandering' isn't the most exalted character trait either. Someone who is 'wandering', be it a college grad or middle-aged adult, isn't necessarily in a good place. They wouldn't seem to 'have it together.' After Cain murdered his brother Abel, he was banished to "the land of wandering" (cf. Genesis 4:16). The Jews, by identifying themselves as 'wanderers,' are admitting that they do not have it all figured out; that they are sinful. Another humbling identification.

Did our Lord wander in the desert for forty days? I don't think so. I think Jesus was very much at peace and rooted in prayer.

But what about us? Will we wander for our Lenten sojourn? Yes, we most likely will. That is, we won't have it all figured out and we will sin. We will cave into the enemy's temptations, even if they are very small ones. In fact, I think we will wander our whole lives.

So, if Jesus is the Aramean, then we are the wanderer. Together, us and the Lord, we are ‘the wandering Aramean.’ Let us offer ourselves on the altar to the Father this Lent for the praise of his glory.

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The SPC School Roundball Tournament is going on this week. Best of luck to the players, coaches, and fans!

We continue with our Monday Evening of Prayer during Lent. Deacon Bob Bulger will be giving the reflection at 7pm this Monday, March 7th. We will also be hearing confessions beginning at 6:30pm, and, of course, daily at 8am.

I look forward to meeting with the Guardian Angel Guild this upcoming Tuesday evening. Last month I met with the Faith Hope and Charity guild (see picture below). I'm grateful for the fellowship and service these groups provide.

On March 19-20 we will hold our annual Lenten almsgiving project. This year we will be supporting the mission at Legendary Lodge in Helena, Montana. This mission supports the youth of the area and nearby parishes. I mentioned last weekend that Father Marc Lenneman, the mission chaplain, would be here with us that weekend, but unfortunately Father Marc is unable to be present now. Instead we will have another individual from the mission speak to us at the end of all the Masses. Please note, there will be no HFC Masses that weekend (March 19-20). All Masses will be in the UC. This is to help us maximize the visibility for this worthwhile project. I'm grateful to Catholic Extension and our own Social Services Ministry for making this opportunity available to the parish.

I want to continue to thank you for your generosity. You can see our weekly collection in the stewardship column on page 2 of the bulletin. We have had some incredibly large and generous donations of late. God bless you!

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