Fr. James' Letters

March 26, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

We are blessed here at Saint Paul of the Cross with beautiful Stations of the Cross. You’ve been previewing some of them as the bulletin covers the last few weeks. This week’s bulletin cover is the 5th Station – Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross. I love all of our Stations, but I particularly find this one striking. It is not my favorite Station – next week I’ll reveal that secret – but I do want to make a few comments about it.

First is the presence of Simon of Cyrene’s two sons – Alexander and Rufus. Mark is the only Gospel that mentions Simon’s two boys. Were they actually present with the father at the crucifixion? We don’t know for sure, but I appreciate the license the artist takes in asserting their presence. This is a powerful moment for the family. This is a powerful demonstration of fatherhood and discipleship.

The boys are pretty classic. The older boy, Alexander, seems to be following along, perhaps carrying a mock sword or javelin. He is upright with a sense of pride in his father’s actions. He will mimic his father one day in integrity and service. The younger boy, holding his older brother’s hand, looks sleepy, like he’d rather be watching Saturday morning cartoons. But Rufus isn’t watching cartoons. He’s with his brother and father. It might be a struggle, but there’s no place he’d rather be.

And Simon, the father, would rather have his children with him than off by themselves doing something else. He wants them in the presence of God. Yes, the crucifixion was brutal and probably not appropriate for children (it wasn’t appropriate for adults!), but Simon knows the benefits this will have for his boys.

Parents, a word of encouragement to you. Don’t be afraid to bring your children to Mass or to talk to them about Jesus or to pray together. It might be uncomfortable and they might squirm, but the long-term benefits of their presence at Mass is more important than the short-term agony. And don’t worry if you get looks from folks around you in the pews. They don’t matter. Focus on Jesus. He wants you and your children there, just like he wanted Simon and the boys.

You’ll notice Simon has his reaper’s sickle attached to his belt. Here is a man ready for the harvest. Well, he’s already begun by witnessing to his boys. They are the first fruits of the harvest. Tradition has it that Alexander and Rufus became missionaries, which is why they were included by Mark. They became saints because of their father.

One final comment about the painting: the posture of Christ. This is the only station where our Lord “breaks the third wall” and looks directly at us. It’s like he’s inviting you and me to help him carry his cross. He’s inviting us to be faithful mothers and fathers. He’s inviting us to be harvesters.

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This week’s Lenten Monday Evening of Prayer will feature our former pastor, Fr. Britto Berchmans, who will give the talk on prayer starting at 7pm. Again, we will have Eucharistic Adoration starting at 6pm and Confessions at 6:30pm.

We are also excited to have this week’s Stations of the Cross on Friday at 7pm hosted by the Apostolate of Women. The ladies of our parish will lead the Stations using the version, “Stations through the eyes of Mary.”

Another word of thanks to all who have contributed to our Lenten Almsgiving Project for the Church in Cuba. We were planning this upcoming weekend to have the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba present with us to preach on the mission, but unfortunately travel restrictions have prevented anyone from being present this weekend. Please see inside the bulletin letters from the Archbishop and the Cuban Conference of Bishops thanking us specifically for our generosity.

As I mentioned last week, if you would be interested in helping reboot a children’s Mass down in the Holy Family Chapel, please send me an email!

Yours 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