Fr. James' Letters

September 11, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

The event of the golden calf at the base of Mount Sinai (the scene from our first reading this weekend) is, to me, one of the most significant events in all of Scripture. You’re familiar with the scene. Moses is up on Mount Sinai for forty days, praying with God and receiving the Ten Commandments. The Israelites at the bottom of the mountain panic and create a new god to worship, and then sin with each other as part of their “worship.” It’s wrong on so many levels. Doubt, distrust, idolatry, impurity, greed, power, and so many other sins are on display in the people.

Why I see this as so significant is God’s reaction, and then Moses’ reaction to God. God, shaking his head in disgust with his people (like a seminarian shakes his head in disgust with me when he sees me wolf down many pieces of Malnati’s pizza… for breakfast), wants to destroy Israel and start over. “Then I will make of you a great nation,” he says to Moses (Exodus 32:10).

Then I will make of you a great nation.

That’s the key line. God is giving Moses the chance to be the new Adam. A whole new nation, and a great one, is at Moses’ fingertips. Think what would have happened if Moses accepted the offer. The whole history of “Israel” would have been different. Things would have been much smoother. There wouldn’t have been the sins of the kings, the conquests by the Babylonians and other superpowers, and the murdering of the prophets. And there wouldn’t have been the killing of Christ.

Moses refuses the offer. Israel, a “not great” nation, will stay.

What a message that gives to us. Israel was not perfect and that’s how it was meant to be. We are not great either. We are imperfect. We are flawed. We are weak. And that’s how God wants us.

An old Native American proverb goes, “Don’t judge another man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” Perhaps that’s one fruit from this powerful message of desired weakness.

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Today, Sunday is the 21st anniversary of 9/11. There will be a special memorial service in front of City Hall at noon today. God bless all those who died that day, those who died subsequently in the War on Terror, and all of our current military personnel and first responders. But before you go to City Hall, go to the gym and have a donut. This Sunday all morning, beginning after the 7:30am Mass, is Donut Sunday and New Parishioner Registration.

Lots of activities starting up this week! RCIA begins this Sunday (encourage people you know who want to become Catholic or need the sacraments to join), That Man is You men’s group begins Monday, GriefShare begins Tuesday, Walking with Purpose women’s group begins Wednesday, Bible Study on the Psalms begins Wednesday, Faith and Film has a showing Wednesday, and the choirs are resuming. We have such great leaders of these groups, who volunteer their time and care about helping all of us grow in our relationship to Christ. I’m grateful to all of you wonderful leaders.

Also, if you missed it last week, the Apostolate of Women is doing its own little reboot. Thanks to Melissa and Jessica and all those involved in helping this great organization.

The Men’s Club Golf Outing is this Friday, September 16th. Speaking of “being not great,” I’m looking forward to seeing many of the SPC golfers beat my shot on the par-3.

Finally, we’re looking to bring on some new staff members hopefully in the not-too-distant future. We are in need of more maintenance staff, as well as perhaps an evening maintenance/security individual (we’ve had instances, unfortunately, in the last few weeks of vandalism around the campus… a special thank you to parishioners who happened to be walking by and stopped a group from causing further damage!). I’d also like to bring on a teen or youth minister. Please say a prayer the Lord provides.

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