Fr. James' Letters

June 4, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Paul tells us “to greet one another with a holy kiss” in our second reading (2 Corinthians 13:12). Sort of an interesting command, no?

I would say I’m in the “middle range” when it comes to physical touch. I don’t recoil when someone wants to give me a hug, but I also don’t go full in for the bear hug. And kissing… well, no need to say more about that. I kiss the altar and the Book of the Gospels at Mass, and that’s about it. One custom which I never fully embraced during my time in Italy was the peck on the cheek for a greeting. When an Italian kisser came my way, I pulled out my old football fullback skills and blocked them out of the way.

So, what’s Saint Paul saying? Well, as you can probably guess, the “holy kiss” was a form of acceptance. It was more than just a way of enthusiastically saying “hello. It was a way of saying “I accept you… we are equals… we are friends.” This is why Paul also says, “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Remember, ancient Jewish law was pretty strict on physical touching. If you came in contact with a corpse, you were unclean. If a Jew touched a Gentile, he was unclean. No touching certain objects that were unblessed and no touching certain foods. No stepping foot into certain places. And so forth. A kiss, therefore, was highly reserved.

Saint Paul is reversing this. Don’t be reserved with people and places. Go for it. Give the “holy kiss” to everyone. Not an actual kiss, but some way to indicate equality and friendship. 

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Please join me this Wednesday, June 7th, at 9am in the Holy Family Chapel for the new SPC Scripture Seminar with Father James. If you missed it last week, it is  basically a Bible study/conversation with me. We’ll discuss and pray over a scripture passage, and try to use the sacred text to deal with some questions we all have (Why does evil exist in the world? Why is the Church the way it is? How do I deal with suffering? How do I help my fallen away family members return to the Church? etc.). I’ll plan to do this every Wednesday at 9am. The sessions are not dependent on one another, so if you miss one week, you can come another week. It’s not like a class on a continuous book of the Bible. It’s free and open to everyone, so I hope you’ll join me.

Another initiative I’d like to try is a new Teen Mass, which will be this Sunday, June 4th at 5pm in the Holy Family Chapel. This will be a separate Mass just for teens, and will be held the first Sunday of the month at 5pm in the Holy Family Chapel. I will cater the Mass to all teenagers, having them participate in the liturgy, and then we’ll have a conversation and pizza afterwards for whoever can stay. A special thank you to Holt’s in Park Ridge for donating the pizza. Parents, please feel free to spread the word to your 8th grader or high school child, and, parents, if you’d like to help me with future teen Masses, feel free to reach out to me.

I will be taking my annual spiritual retreat beginning next Tuesday, June 13th. I cherish this experience every year, where I go away to a quiet place to be alone with God. I pray every day, as you know, but this is a particularly special time. I’ll be in silence for eight days, removed from email, work, and the world. I’ll be praying for you during this period. As I did last year, I have placed a booklet of blank sheets for you to write down your intentions. You’ll find the booklet by the Saint Joseph altar in the church. Feel free to write down as many intentions as you wish. I will leave the booklet out until next Monday, June 12th. It’s a privilege to pray for you and your intentions.

This is the last week of school for SPC. The prekindergarten has its last day on Wednesday, and the rest of the school on Friday. We’ll end the year with a special Mass on Friday at 10am. Congratulations, faculty, students, and parents on a successful year. Congratulations to all of our other students at various schools on the end of their academic years.

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