Fr. James' Letters

November 6, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

I received some feedback from my bulletin letter a few weeks back about the “5-Tool Catholic” and “5-Tool Priest.” But before I explain, let me first explain the picture below. It was from Halloween last week. Our principal, Dr. M, was a Carebear and I was wearing something very scary that made my skin crawl. I dressed up as a Packers fan. Ugh!

Several people asked me about the fifth tool… don’t be weird. They wondered about that. What does it mean to be weird? Weren’t the saints weird? Why is weird bad? Jesus was weird, wasn’t he? You’re weird, Father James. (That last one, I noted, wasn’t a question.)

When I include “don’t be weird,” I’m thinking, among other things, about “normal holiness.” There’s “normal holiness” and, let’s call it, “elevated holiness.” (Sorry, I can’t think of a better word than “elevated” right now to describe this.) Zacchaeus was normally holy.

“Normal holiness,” to me, is the man or woman who faithfully fulfills their obligations day in and day out. They are kind. They do their best spiritually. They might not be able to say a full rosary each day, for instance, but they pray in their own way and they go to Church. They are generous. They take advantage of little opportunities that present themselves throughout the day to be good – letting someone into their lane while driving, returning a dropped $10 bill to someone on the street, offering a teammate a ride home from practice, not making the sharp comment to the spouse when they could. And so forth. This is an iteration of St. Therese’s “Little Way.” Everyone of you has the chance to be “normally holy.” This is not weird.

Some of us might be invited into an “elevated holiness,” however. This isn’t necessarily better, please note. These would be the folks who pray holy hours and other devotional practices, do spiritual reading, volunteer or donate extensively in charitable efforts, fast extensively, and so forth.

We are all called to be “normally holy” first before we move to “elevated holiness.” The weird person, to me, goes straight to the latter. They go to three Masses a day but then can’t smile at someone on the street. Just an example. The saints weren’t weird. They had “elevated holiness,” but they also had – and never stopped being – normally holy.

The seven brothers and their mother from Maccabees were heroic when they were martyred. This was “elevated holiness.” But it didn’t happen miraculously. I bet that family was in the habit of being normally holy. The invitation came to be elevated, and they accepted it.

God wants to elevate all of us. If we start with asking for the grace to be normally holy that fifth tool will come.

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This weekend is Daylight Savings! Don’t forget to turn your clock back one hour. And don’t forget to come to Donut and New Parishioner Sunday in the gym. Thanks goes to Door County Coffee Company for supplying our coffee (and the rectory’s too)… there are some great Autumn-spice flavors!

This Friday, November 11th at 7pm is CRUX Nightfever hosted here at Saint Paul of the Cross. While the event is geared towards our teens, all are invited to stop into the church this Friday evening for Eucharistic Adoration and special music. It’ll be a dynamic atmosphere and we’ll have Benediction outside on the front steps of the church to conclude the evening.

As I mentioned last week, the Archdiocese of Chicago is taking up a special second collection for asylum seekers this weekend. And thank you to those who contributed to our special Social Services Ministry collection on October 22nd when we prayed the rosary together in church.

I want to point your attention to a letter from Cardinal Cupich on page 10 about the strong academic test results from our Archdiocesan Catholic schools, including our own at SPC. Our Cardinal, the Office of Catholic Schools, and all of our principals and teachers deserve both our gratitude and congratulations.

As promised, see page 11 for the results of our October census (how many people, on average, come to Mass on the weekend).

A reminder to save-the-date for our parish’s evangelization team-sponsored event, “The Word on the Street.” This will take place on Tuesday, November 15th at Harp & Fiddle in Park Ridge.

Looking ahead, we are bringing back a special Advent Monday Evenings of Prayer. For the four Mondays of Advent (11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19) we will have Eucharistic Adoration in church from 6:00-7:30pm. Confessions will be heard from 6:30-7:15pm and a talk on prayer at 7:15pm, followed by Night Prayer and Benediction at 7:30pm.

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