Fr. James' Letters

October 9, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

The Gospel passage of the ten lepers being healed but only one returning to give thanks to God always reminds me of Thanksgiving, as this is often the Gospel we have at Mass on Thanksgiving Day. And I love Thanksgiving. Food, faith, family, football, food coma, fall weather, founding fathers, friends, food (did I mention food already?).

So, thinking about Thanksgiving, George Washington wrote this in his 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation:

"It is the duty of nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor."

Fascinating. We all have duties as citizens: pay taxes, serve jury duty if summoned, obey the traffic laws, etc. These are not optional. If they were, society would unravel. There would be chaos and anarchy.

I don’t imagine Washington was using the term “duty” lightly. If we don’t acknowledge God at work and seek to do his will, and give him thanks, we will similarly unravel.

We all know this, and you’ve heard me say it a million times, but sometimes to hear the exhortation from a non-religious figure can help drive the point home.

Allow me to expound on Washington’s command. When we don’t acknowledge Almighty God at work, then we subtly fall into the belief that we are God and that the work is all our doing. We are the cause of success. Others are the cause of failure. There’s no room for gratitude (other than to be grateful to ourselves, but that doesn’t make sense if you parse that out) and we become machines.

Naaman in our first reading was a great general, much like George Washington. He wasn’t particularly religious either. But he was smart and he was humble. He knew he wasn’t God and he knew he owed his healing to someone other than himself. He gives thanks to God as a result. Great benefits flow from that simple act.

The one leper who returned to Jesus was, similar to Naaman, who was himself a leper, not particularly religious. He was a Samaritan. But he too “got it.” He doesn’t go about his life, like the other nine, but follows the “Thanksgiving Day command.”

Being a person of faith doesn’t always have to be so complicated. It can sometimes simply come down to following a duty, like we would stopping at a red light.  Where can we acknowledge God at work today? Can we then give him thanks?

We don’t have to wait until next month to do this. And we don’t have to wait a month to enjoy good food, family, and faith!

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October is Respect Life month, and we have a lot of opportunities to pray for and serve the most vulnerable in our society. Baby bottles are still available and will be collected in a few weeks. Next Saturday, October 15th at 10am in Hodges Park by City Hall is the Rosary in the Park sponsored by our Knights of Columbus. That same Saturday is also the Stuff-the-Truck charity drive here at the parish.

Speaking of the Knights of Columbus, happy Columbus Day to all. Because of the holiday, there is no school, the rectory offices will be closed, and we will have only one Mass that day at 8:30am (Monday, October 10th).

On Saturday, October 22nd following the 4:30pm Mass we will have the SPC at SPC Oktoberfest/Rosary/Service event outside (see picture above of someone ready for the party!). Come join us for a free dinner and a rosary at 7pm. We ask for an RSVP just to help us with a head count for food planning purposes. A bratwurst in one hand and a rosary… what could be better? This is the true “fall classic.”

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)