Fr. James' Letters

April 23, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

A running theme throughout all of the Resurrection appearances is the struggle of the disciples to accept the risen Lord. Saint Peter and the apostles don’t believe the account told them by the women. Saint Thomas doubts. And this Sunday we hear about Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus. “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him,” we read in the Gospel. Why were their eyes prevented from recognizing the Lord?

Before feigning an answer, let me pose it to you (and to myself). If we were to see the risen Lord right before us, why would we not be able to recognize him? What would there be within us blocking us from receiving the glorified Lord?

It could be something simple. Perhaps we’re too busy with work or hobbies or whatever. We don’t see Jesus before us because we’re looking at something else. The two disciples “were conversing and debating.” Perhaps this is a way of saying their minds were occupied. They were too caught up in their minds and points to argue that they missed God.

The beauty of Lent was that we cut a lot of that “busyness” out of our lives. Less distractions, more time for prayer, and we experienced the Lord. There’s no rule that says in Easter we have to go back to those distractions. You can continue to curb your time on the phone or TV and so forth. You can continue to go to daily Mass.

So, that could be one reason why we wouldn’t recognize the Lord, and why the two disciples didn’t either. We are too busy.

But there could also be a deeper reason. We’re not busy, we’re praying, and we still don’t see the Lord. Why? Perhaps because we’ve boxed Christ in. The way he is appearing to us isn’t what we were expecting; isn’t what we thought was proper to the Lord. Maybe the risen Lord is in the person you struggle most with in your life. Maybe the risen Lord is in one of your ongoing crosses. Maybe the risen Lord is in something easy and beautiful and free. You don’t expect that and so you don’t see Jesus. Remember, Mary Magdalene saw Jesus but thought it was a gardener; the two disciples saw Jesus but thought it was a random traveler.

We can ask the Emmaus boys to pray for us this week. Pray that our eyes might be open and our hearts as well. Open to anything. Open to Jesus as he is (not as we think he should be).

That could also be an intention you have for yourself or for another who is struggling to see Jesus the next time you receive communion. Remember, their eyes were finally opened when Jesus broke the bread. The Eucharist is a powerful source of healing and enlightenment. May we experience that grace today.

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Please join us at Harp and Fiddle in Park Ridge this Tuesday, April 25th at 7:30pm for the next Word on the Street. We’re excited to have Bishop Bartosic with us. We’ll be discussing informally with the group about the need for the Church. We need God in our lives, but do we need the Catholic Church? Feel free to invite a friend to this fun event.

The next course in the SPC Bible Study begins this week. Please think of joining the group either Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings. It’s a great way to learn Scripture, share your faith, and build relationships with each other.

This Friday is the SPC School “Celebrate the Spirit” party at Park Ridge Country Club at 8pm. As we near the completion of another successful school year, I want to congratulate and thank all of our teachers, students and parents for the hard work they put in to making our school vibrant.

As May approaches we also look forward to the celebration of many sacraments: weddings, first communions, ordinations. Our First Communion will be May 6 and May 13. Seminarian Martin’s ordination to the transitional diaconate will be May 13 and Deacon Kevin’s ordination to the priesthood will be May 20. Congratulations to all.

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