Fr. James' Letters

December 11, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

I’ve been reading recently about Saint Francis of Assisi. He’s a saint I very much admire and one who I aspire to live like. First and foremost, Francis loved God. I want to love God as Francis did.

Then, Francis’ poverty, appreciation of nature, balance of action and contemplation, open and trusting temperament, and warmness and creativity that attracted male and female friends are all aspects of a beautiful life and personality that appeal to me.

But, above all, it is Francis’ joy that really inspires me.

Francis suffered immensely throughout his life, both physically and emotionally. Anger and heaviness were not the characteristics that flowed out of the saint. No. Joy did. 

We are told to be joyful by the Church. Joy to the World! we sing. This Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, is about joy. Be joyful.

Easier said than done. How can I be joyful when my car gets a flat tire? When I lose my job? When my marriage ends? When a carton of eggs costs over $3?

Think of the things, beyond this list above, that make you angry; the experiences that sap your joy. Yes, all these things could cause us to be angry. But they don’t have to. With God’s grace, we can be joyful even in the midst of these painful realities. We can choose to be joyful and not angry.

When I say ‘choose,’ what I really mean is that we can ask God to give us joy. God’s grace is powerful. The thing that would naturally cause us to be angry or disappointed will not have that effect on us.

How was Francis so joyful? He wanted it, he begged God for it, and he received it when God was faithful and gave it to him.

There is an act of surrender involved in accepting the joy God wants to give us. When we let the things that can make us angry indeed make us angry, then we are in control. And we like being in control.

Saint Francis is said to have created the first nativity set. He did so in a small town in Italy named Greccio. A nativity set is joyful. We delight in the Holy Family, the animals, the angels, and the expectant baby Jesus.

Well, when you look upon your nativity set, say a silent prayer that you will be open to receiving the joy God wants to give you. When we let go of that control and allow God to give us joy, we will radiate like Saint Francis of Assisi did. We won’t need flashy decorations outside our homes. We will be the Christmas lights.

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Advent Monday Evenings of Prayer continue this Monday beginning at 6pm in the church. For those of you wishing to partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation this season, in addition to confessions daily at 8am and Saturdays at 3pm, we also offer confessions these Mondays at 6:30pm.

Religious Education this Tuesday at 4pm will have its annual Christmas Pageant. Thank you, students and catechists, for getting us in the spirit. SPC School will have its Christmas show on Wednesday, December 21st.

Last Sunday’s Coffee in the Gym alongside the Saint Nick’s Party was a great success. Thank you all very much to those special individuals who helped make the gym a special event for all. It put us in the spirit and helped distract us from the Bears losing to the Packers!

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 (UC)