Fr. James' Letters

February 12, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Sirach is an old Jewish man writing about 175BC, long after Israel has passed its prime. His advice isn’t so much to the nation, since the nation is effectively gone, but rather to the individual. He’s giving concrete advice to his grandson and others. He’s talking to them directly. It’s advice that we can take directly too.

“If you choose, you can keep the commandments,” he says. “It is loyalty to do his will” (Sirach 15:15).

The choice is ours whether or not to follow God. Loyalty is not an automatic virtue. We have to want to be loyal and we have to choose to be loyal. “There are set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand” (Sirach 15:16). Same with life and death. Whichever we choose will be given to us.

Sometimes we think the choice is not ours: that we are consigned to a particular fate or mode of behavior. ‘I’m just always going to be impatient with this family member,’ we think. Or, ‘I’m always going to succumb to eating sweets.’ But that’s the easy way out. Yes, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to impatience or gluttony, or whatever our vice might be, but it is possible indeed to resist. We have to choose to resist. Or, better, we have to choose to ask God for his grace to help us resist. God will love us whether we fail or succeed in resisting the temptation. The only way he’ll be disappointed with us if we don’t ask him for help.

I think there was a presumption after the Sermon on the Mount that the people were home free. Jesus was getting rid of the law, all we have to do is love our neighbor, and now ‘on to eating pulled pork sandwiches and sleeping in on the sabbath!’ “Not so fast,” says our Lord. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

What does he mean by “fulfilling the law”? Well, precisely what I mentioned above: being in relationship with God. The ancient Hebraic law was very demanding and very hard to fulfill. An Israelite couldn’t do it on their own. They had to ask God for help and, when they failed, they had to turn to God for forgiveness and help on the morrow. The point was to always be turning to God. That’s the point of the law. Yes, the law will be in place because we are still called to be in constant relationship with God.

Saint Paul makes references to “God’s wisdom, mysterious, and hidden.” I think what Paul might be referring to are those very difficult crosses God puts in our lives. He doesn’t put them there to torture us and laugh at our struggle. He puts them there to make us cry out to him for help. For God always seeks to be a true father to us.

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This Sunday is the commitment weekend for the Annual Catholic Appeal. At all the Masses we will listen to the Cardinal’s homily and then I will lead everyone in filling out the envelopes. I will finish with a brief homily of my own. As I’ve been mentioning the previous weeks, this is an important annual fundraiser for the Archdiocese and our parish. These contributions go towards ministries throughout the area and in particular towards serving the poor and economically-challenged schools and parishes. We are a blessed parish and I thank you for being so generous, not just with this appeal but with all our other charitable efforts. May God continue to bless us.

Next Saturday, February 18th we welcome Bishop Bartosic back to our parish for 8th Grade Confirmation. Congratulations to our students who will be receiving the sacrament. Welcome sponsors and family members, and thank you, teachers and catechists, for your work in preparing our confirmandi.

Congratulations to our schools and families on a successful Catholic Schools Week. Our students gathered over 1,000 pairs of warm socks that will be distributed to the poor through Catholic Charities. Thank you for this effort.

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

All in Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 am

8:30 am


8:30 am - weekday Mass

4:30 pm - vigil


7:30 am

9:00 am

10:30 am

12:00 pm