Fr. James' Letters

September 4, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

At this point in the Scripture narrative Jesus has finished his Galilean ministry and is making his way to Jerusalem for his Passion. The Galilean ministry, we could say, was a time of consolation — healings, miracles, teachings, etc. Huge crowds, thus, are following Christ (see the opening line of today’s Gospel). Jerusalem, on the other hand, will be desolation: rejection, betrayal, death. As Jesus is entering this desolation, it's like he wants to warn the crowd. He turns to them and says, effectively, "if you want to be my disciple, you've got to hate your mother and father, renounce your possessions, and take up your cross." Being a disciple is not all roses and sunshine. It’s not always consolation.

We are familiar with the cross. We preach a lot about it — or at least we should — since we all have crosses in our life. Every single one of us suffers in some way and so is connected to the cross. So, a bit on the cross…

There are two crosses, in my mind: the cross that is imposed upon us that we need to bear, and the cross within us that we have to pick up. 

The cross imposed upon us, for example, could be some “exterior” suffering. You or a loved one has cancer. You lost your job. Your child has left the Church. You don't do anything to earn this cross and God isn’t punishing you. No, it’s not that. What our faith and Christ tells us is that we don't carry the cross alone. Jesus is our Simon of Cyrene, helping us carry the cross so we don't collapse underneath it.

But then there's the cross within us, the second cross. Think of some darkness in your heart, maybe a psychological ailment or something emotional or spiritual that you deal with. There's heaviness within you. Picking up this cross is the Lord's invitation to enter into this darkness. Bring Christ into it so he can make you even more aware of what is happening and perhaps even heal you. That’s what it means to pick up the cross.

This is hard, admittedly so. No one really wants to enter the darkness. Hence it's easier to avoid the cross and distract ourselves by turning to the phone or going shopping or whatever. That's why we have the reference, in our Lord’s sayings in the Gospel, to the renunciation of possessions. “Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple,” Jesus says (Luke 14:33). Without these worldly/material distractions, we can sit more easily in silence in prayer and enter the cross.

It is when we enter the cross that we are united to the Lord and experience healing and conversion. Something changes within us. Look at Onesimus and Philemon, our second reading. The two are separated for a period, which had to be painful, but this separation will allow Philemon to no longer see Onesimus as a slave and object, but rather as a brother in Christ.

If we can pray with our crosses, we will live in freedom with God, and this is what it really means to be a disciple, living the fullness of life.

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We welcome Sr. Rubi from the Sisters Servants of the Visitation as our mission speaker at all the Masses this weekend. This is part of the Archdiocesan-wide Mission appeal. Sister Rubi serves the poor in Eastern Samar. Thank you for your support.

Happy Labor Day to all. Please note we will have only one daily Mass that day at 8:30am and there will be no daily Confessions.

The Pastoral Council will meet this Tuesday, September 6th at 7pm. Part of our agenda will be planning the “SPC at SPC” on Saturday, October 22, 2022. Again, please save the date for this event. It stands for: Service, Prayer, & Community at Saint Paul of the Cross. Following the 4:30pm Mass we will gather outside in the parking lot for an Oktoberfest party, rosary, and some act of service for the poor. Details to follow.

Catechesis (Religious Education) starts this week! Welcome back catechists and students. May it be a blessed year for you all. Thank you Anna Mae Parkhill and her team for their hard work in preparing for the year.

Our first all-school Mass will be this Tuesday at 10am. Then on Friday at 7pm will be a SPC School Parent-Mixer in the safe zone.

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) - vigil

Sunday

7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC)

10:30 am (UC)

12:00 pm (HFC)