Fr. James' Letters

July 17, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

Ah, Martha and Mary. The classic scene in the Gospel: Martha busy in the kitchen while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. Some of us smile at this passage; some of us cringe.

I find it interesting this scene occurs right after the parable of the Good Samaritan, which, if you recall, we read in last week’s Gospel. And the Good Samaritan is Jesus’ follow-up to the scholar of the law saying the law is boiled down to loving God with one’s whole heart and loving your neighbor as yourself.

I mentioned in my homily last week that, yes, while the Good Samaritan parable is a call to action for us to be ‘Good Samaritans’ to our neighbors in need, we can only be loving and compassionate to others to the extent that we are loving and compassionate towards ourselves. We are all the “victim on the side of the road,” beaten and left for dead. We might be that way right now or we might have been that way at some point in the past. Well, one way to “love yourself” is to go back to when you were at your low point in life: a time when you were struggling, far from God perhaps or immersed in some sin. Pray with Jesus about that time in your life and have mercy and pity on yourself. Jesus loved you then and loves you now. Can you love yourself when you were really struggling? We can sometimes be the toughest critics of ourselves. If we are harsh and unsympathetic towards ourselves, I maintain we will be that way to others.

So, to be a Good Samaritan means we need to pray. We need to be Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.

I wonder in that household if Jesus and Mary were discussing a time in Mary’s life when she was in pain and in sin. I wonder if Jesus was assuring Mary that he loved her then just as he loves her now. I wonder if Jesus told Mary to be patient and understanding with her broken self.

Martha might have been in a “broken state” while she was busy in the kitchen. Perhaps she was avoiding being with Jesus because she was in a bad place. The one thing I know for sure, regardless of what was going on with Martha, was that Mary was able to be a Good Samaritan to her sister. She loved her sister because she loved herself. And she loved herself because she prayed.

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This Saturday, July 16th our parish will have a table at the Taste of Park Ridge Festival. Please stop by or encourage some friends to stop by… you might get a special gift!

I want to give a brief shout-out and thank you to Katie and the Eagle Scouts who have made the front of the Adoration Chapel beautiful with their flowers and care. This is a lovely area and all of us are grateful for your generosity in enhancing the beauty of our space. We are blessed at Saint Paul with a beautiful campus.

You’ll also notice a little fire truck placed on our lawn near the front marquee sign on Northwest Highway. That isn’t one of the seminarians’, though you might see Deacon Kevin sitting in it from time to time with a lollipop. We agreed with the Park Ridge Historical Society to host one of the models (you’ll see them at other locations around Park Ridge).

I’ll be away this upcoming Tuesday, July 19 through Monday, July 25 on my annual vacation with my priest friends. I mentioned this last year, but there are six of us who studied in Rome in seminary together. We are from all different dioceses and this is the one time of year we see each other. It’s a vacation we take every year, and this year we’ll be going to Kentucky. We might enjoy a bourbon or cigar while away. You’ll be in my prayers. Thank you, in advance, Father Nick and the seminarians for holding down the fort while I’m away.

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


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