Fr. James' Letters

December 18, 2022

Dear Parishioners,

The image below of the Annunciation by Salvador Dali, painted in 1947, is one of my favorite depictions of the monumental scene.

The colors are vibrant and consoling. There is enough structure to allow the viewer to figure out what is going on, but not too much detail to spell everything out. We have to use our senses and imagination to connect the dots. And we have some liberty in interpreting the painting.

Art experts, feel free to correct me if I’m way off on my interpretation. Just because I painted a watercolor Thanksgiving dinner table last month doesn’t mean I’m now a professional.

What I see here is the angel Gabriel in the foreground, blotched in green (Packers colors, unfortunately, but we’ll let that slide for now). Mary is behind in the blue. Gabriel holds a lily in his hand, a symbol of purity and uprightness. He also has gray wings clipped to him. There appears to be similar wings on Mary, but upon closer inspection, they are not attached. Perhaps this is the Holy Spirit descending upon her.

“Hey, Father James, the Gospel this Sunday is not the Annunciation. It’s Gabriel’s visit to Joseph. You want to put down the eggnog and get to the point?”

Yes yes. This painting to me could also be depicting Saint Joseph. What if Joseph was in the green and Mary, his wife, was in the blue?

In this viewing, the angel could be the light around the two figures, perhaps emanating from the top left corner. Mary received first the news of the messenger of God, hence she is in the background. Joseph is imitating the posture of his wife. He is given a lily of righteousness and purity, just like Mary was given one. Mary appears to be holding one as well.

How beautiful the marriage and friendship between Mary and Joseph! They are truly kindred spirits. Their bond is their love for God. They both surrendered to the Father’s will and to loving their baby. There is a blending of the two partners, like the blending of those colors.

Oh, if we could be the third figure not portrayed in this frame! If we could be a colored blotch in front of Joseph, kneeling down, trusting, and receiving the lily God desires to give us. It would truly be a Trinity.

It can happen. Pray for it this last week of Advent. May we be like Mary and Joseph. May we add to the beautiful canvas that God has painted.

 ---------- + ----------

Our last Advent Monday Evenings of Prayer will be this Monday, December 19th. Please join us in church for Eucharistic Adoration beginning at 6pm. Confessions will be heard at 6:30pm and a talk on prayer around 7:10pm. If you’ve missed previous talks, they are recorded and under the “Heirs of the Kingdom: Season 2” podcast on our website.

Enjoy your holiday break, students. Those of you coming home from college, welcome back. Those of you out of town, safe travels.

Be sure you check the bulletin for the schedule for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day Masses next weekend. There will be a daily Mass for Saturday, December 24th (counting not as Christmas Eve, but as the last day of Advent) at 8:30am. The first Christmas Eve Mass will be at 3pm, both in the UC and HFC.

Thank you in advance to all those who will make our Christmas celebrations not just possible, but beautiful – choirs and musicians, sacristans, ushers, servers, schedulers, lectors, decorators and so forth. There was a wonderful group of parishioners a couple weeks ago who put up the lights outside on our campus and decorated the entries to the church. Thank you so much for your dedicated work. Finally, I also want to thank my staff here at Saint Paul for the wonderful work they do in making our parish vibrant.

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.

E-Newsletter Signup!

Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

View Larger Map

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