Fr. James' Letters

April 2, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As promised, I’ve included on the cover of this week’s bulletin my favorite Station of the Cross in our church. Last week I spoke about the beauty of our Stations and how the 5th Station (Simon helps Jesus carry the cross) is particularly striking. Well, the 2nd Station (Jesus takes up his cross) is a true work of art.

The posture of Christ is a message in itself. This is how we are to look upon the cross. We are to embrace it. Christ’s arms are raised heavenward. They are welcoming and open. There is a sense of relief in them and joy. It is as if he’s saying, “Finally! At last!” There is also a sense of gratitude in his hands, like he’s also saying, “thank you, Father!” It’s how my hands will look when the Bears finally win the Super Bowl one year.

I suppose I’m looking at the posture in an optimistic way. I suppose one could just as easily look at Christ’s arms as saying, “Oh God no! Why me? Please don’t let this happen…” It could be the look of the end of another losing Bears season. Total dejection.

Yes, there’s a hint of agony in his face. He knows the cross won’t be easy. But there’s firm resolve. He will carry the cross and it will mean the salvation of the world.

I’ve mentioned this ad nauseum, but I love my life. I love my life as a priest. I love it because I love Jesus. He is my salvation. I was once blind and he opened my eyes. I was once unfulfilled and he gave me meaning. He continues to guide me and give me new experiences of beauty. The life of prayer and total consecration to Christ is awesome. I am blessed.

And you are blessed too. You have this relationship with Jesus, and there is still more to go.

All of this possible because of the cross. With that wood on his back, Christ broke the hardness of our hearts. He made a life of genuine love and discipleship possible. He knew that moment 2,000 years ago when the cross appeared in the praetorium, that you and me loving him would be possible. And so he embraced it.

Today is Palm Sunday, the commencement of Holy Week.  I know when we read the Passion narrative at Masses this Sunday (and, again, on Good Friday) you’ll have to play the part of the crowd and yell, “Crucify him, Crucify him!” You’re acting there. What’s real is you saying, “I love you, Lord! I love you, Lord!” Reach out your arms to heaven for Jesus, the way he is reaching out in this Second Station. Let him take you on the greatest journey of your life – into his Sacred Heart.

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This Sunday is the annual Blood Drive taking place all morning in the gym. Thank you to all who will give blood, and thank you to the organizers of the drive.

Please be sure to look inside the bulletin for the schedule of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday services. All of the principal liturgies will be at 7:30pm in the UC. On Easter we will add a second 9am and 10:30am Mass in the gym.

A public-service-announcement about the Easter basket blessing on Holy Saturday at 11am in the main church. Please keep your basket with you in your pew when you come into church (don’t drop it off in the sanctuary). We’ll do a blessing of all the food items over all the baskets you have with you in your seats, and then we’ll line up like we do for communion to do the individual blessing of baskets for those who want it. Get that kielbasa and lamb-shaped butter ready!

This Monday will be our last Monday Evening of Prayer. Deacon Kevin Gregus will give the talk on prayer at 7pm and we will be hearing confessions starting at 6:30pm. There will also be confessions on Good Friday starting at noon.

Another reminder about our Lenten Almsgiving Project for the church in Cuba, if you haven’t given already. Please see inside the bulletin letters from the Archbishop and the Conference of Bishops.

Congratulations to our RCIA candidates and catechumens, who will be entering the church on Saturday at the Easter Vigil: Maggie Nolten, Kamron Chamberlain, Qiwei Chen, Brianna Avery, Addison Latko, Tara Pinter, Brenda Lyons, Carmen Lemus. We thank Beshar Bahjat, the leader of RCIA, who has worked so hard for these individuals all year. And thank you as well to Beshar’s team who assisted him each week.

I hope you have a blessed Holy Week. I will be praying for each of you in a special way. I thank God for your faith and for your commitment to our parish. It is an honor to serve as your pastor.

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