Fr. James' Letters

October 2, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’” (Luke 17:5).

That’s the opening line of our Gospel this weekend. Seems a bit demanding of the apostles, doesn’t it?

I suppose it’s how you pray imaginatively over this Gospel. Perhaps the apostles made this request in a gentle and loving way. But to me it comes across as forceful. I read it as, “C’mon, Jesus! Increase our faith! Do it now! Let’s go!” If that seems far from the truth, recall that these apostles were fishermen and tax collectors (rough and gruff), wanted to rain fire down upon a town to destroy it, and pulled out swords to fight in the Garden of Gethsemane. So, yeah, I can see them being a bit pushy.

We are gentle souls, yes, but there are times we are aggressive with the Lord. I know I am. I’ll catch myself for a stretch in prayer asking the Lord for particular things, and doing them (without realizing it) in a forward way. Make me holy. Show me your will. Give me your grace. These are some of my petitions.

These prayers seem holy. I mean, I’m not saying, Make the Bears win or Give a parishioner the winning lottery ticket (and then make them donate some of it to SPC). But these seemingly “holy” prayers do not leave me in a state of peace. I’m demanding (usually not indicative of one at peace). Which means I’m not trusting. Which means I’m doubting.

To pray Make me holy, for instance, means I don’t think I’m holy right now, which means I doubt whether the Lord desires me. This is based on the lie that says the Lord will only love me and want me when I’m holy. But that’s not true. The Lord wants me, and all of us, right now as we are, holy or unholy.

Notice Jesus’ response to the apostles’ demand is not, “Okay, I’ll give you an increase of faith.” It’s simply, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed…” To heed the apostles’ request would be to accept their premise: that their faith is weak and unacceptable. It’s not in Jesus’ eyes. They have faith. Could it grow? Sure. Everyone’s faith can always grow. But it’s the state of their souls right now, and Jesus loves them now. The only graced moment, as I’ve said before, is the present.

I suppose the ultimate point is that because we are lovable right now, imperfect though we are, we are called to give our hearts to God. The subtle working of the enemy in the demanding petition is that we don’t make an act of love to Jesus. We wait until we are perfect. Jesus didn’t want the apostles to work on their faith. He wanted them in that moment to give him their hearts. It’s always about the relationship.

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Today, Sunday, October 2nd, is Donut Sunday and New Parishioner Sign-up over in the gym. Feel free to stop by all morning, following the 7:30am Mass. What better way to celebrate the feast of the Guardian Angels (October 2) than having a donut and putting your guardian angel to work by clearing out your arteries? Religious Ed students and teachers and parents, and RCIA folks, feel free also to reward yourself after your hard Sunday morning labor!

Tuesday, October 4th is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, which means we will hold our annual pet blessing. Come to the parking lot at 3:30pm to have your animal blessed. If your dog bites Fr. Nick (or does something worse), we will not be able to guarantee its place in heaven.

There will be no school on Thursday and Friday this week for Parent-Teacher conferences, as well as no school on Monday, October 10th for Columbus Day (the rectory offices will also be closed that day and there will be only the 8:30am Mass). Next Tuesday, October 11th at 7pm, I look forward to speaking with the parents of 8th graders about the Sacrament of Confirmation.

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)

12:00 pm (HFC)