Fr. James' Letters

March 27, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

I have always found interesting the notion that there will be no “sacraments” in Heaven. It makes logical sense (in Heaven we’ll have Jesus directly and won’t need any mediation), but it still seems strange. Our lives as Catholics seem to be so ordered to the sacraments, that we won’t have them in eternity is a startling reality. We cherish the sacraments. We all know what it felt like to not be able to go to Mass or Confession during the shut-down, to postpone weddings, baptisms, first communions, etc. Some priests could give the anointing of the sick, but, during the shut-down, many other family members could not be present to witness that final sacrament. So, the proposal that when we reach the pearly gates we “dump” the sacraments, like that bag of old clothes we toss in the Saint Vincent de Paul box over by Saint Juliana, is a head-scratcher.

We see a precursor to this reality in our first reading. “On that same day after the Passover, on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan” (Joshua 5:12). The manna was temporary. The sacraments are temporary too.

And, yet, the sacraments do not entirely vanish when we make it to Heaven. The bag of donated clothes is not a precise analogy. The sacraments remain a part of us, and, in a way, are still with us in Heaven. (This is how animals will “be” in Heaven, by the way.)

The sacraments, you see, mold our souls. Our souls, of course, are what exist in Heaven. This is who we will be in Heaven, our souls with all the graces and influences we received from this earth, including the sacraments.

This is an important reality to grasp and live by. Heaven is not a total restart or rupture from our existence on earth. Sure, we won’t have our bodies, but who you are – your thinking, desiring, relating, preferring – will perdure in Heaven, though purified and in total union with God.

The sacraments on this earth make us fit for Heaven, like a sculptor slowly chiseling away at a block of marble. Sure, we might get to Heaven without frequent participation of the sacraments, but don’t you want eternity to be enjoyable? It’d be like watching a sport you have no clue about, or going to a concert for music you don’t like. 

The Israelites no longer needed the manna in Israel, but the effects of the manna (relying on God, trusting in him, reaching out to him) remained with them. What they received from the manna was far more than the actual bread. The sacraments make us people who long for God and are weekly, daily, even hourly reaching out to God. Heaven will then be the unceasing fulfillment of our heart’s desire.

Try to keep your soul “open” the next time you’re at Mass or in the confessional, and let the Divine Artist mold you even further into the beautiful person you are called to be, now and for eternity.

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We continue with our Monday Evening of Prayer during Lent. Deacon Andy will be giving the reflection at 7pm this Monday, March 28th. A reminder that next week, April 4-6, we will have extended time for confessions throughout the area.

The parish book club will meet this Monday, March 28th to discuss Atticus by Ron Hansen. Please join us over in the Morello Life Center, even if you didn’t have a chance to read (or finish!) the book. There is a connection to the parable of the prodigal son from this Sunday’s Gospel.

I look forward to doing another “teaching Mass” Saturday morning with the second grade students and families who will be making their First Communion in a couple months. After the teaching Mass, the students will head over to the gym to bake bread. A lot of work goes into the day’s activities, so thank you Mrs. Parkhill and her team for their efforts to help our families appreciate the Eucharist.

Your servant 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)

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)