Fr. James' Letters

August 6, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

The Transfiguration of the Lord. What an awesome scene. It’s so awesome, in fact, it receives its own feast day, which we celebrate on August 6th. Because August 6th this year falls on a Sunday, we skip what would have been the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time and celebrate the liturgy for the Transfiguration.

As awesome as the Transfiguration is, when it happened, no one knew about it, other than Peter, James, and John. “As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, ‘Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead’.”

I just finished reading Commander in Chief: FDR’s Battle with Churchill, 1943 by Nigel Hamilton (thanks, Dad, for recommending the book). It’s the second book in a trilogy on FDR’s leadership in the Second World War.

Churchill typically receives credit for being the main strategist in WWII; the greater war-time leader. But this book revealed how FDR was actually the far superior commander. FDR first fought off his own generals, who wanted the D-Day invasion of Normandy earlier in 1942. FDR felt the Americans were not prepared for such an assault and needed more combat experience. He decided an invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) must come first, followed by an invasion of Sicily. After these two amphibious assaults, the American Army would be (and was) ready for Normandy.

But Churchill was not ready. After fighting off his own generals, FDR next had to fight off the English Prime Minister. Churchill resisted the Allied invasion of Northern France, instead proposing an assault through the Aegean and Balkans. This would have been disastrous, as it was in WWI. Churchill then wanted D-Day postponed until 1945 or 1946, hoping to preserve the British colonies and have Hitler and Stalin destroy each other. But FDR knew doing so would surrender most of Western Europe to Soviet control. FDR stayed firm in his decision, held off the wavering Prime Minister, and D-Day commenced, along with the allied victory. Margaret Suckley, who was present to many of the interactions between Roosevelt and Churchill wrote, “The Prime Minister recognizes in the President a man with a greater soul and a broader outlook than his own… I consider WSC a great man also. But he has not achieved the spiritual freedom of FDR.”

FDR doesn’t receive credit for his military and diplomatic prowess because Churchill essentially wrote the history of the war with his six-volume memoir, The Second World War. FDR died before the war’s end. Churchill’s account, as he would admit privately, was mostly inaccurate and self-serving. So FDR’s brilliance was hidden.

At any rate, all of this made me think of Christ keeping the Transfiguration secret until after the Resurrection. Christ would leave it to Peter (see the second reading) and the others to tell of the glory of the Resurrection, much like it would take more than fifty years for the true account of FDR and Churchill to come out.

Many of you have had your glorious, yet hidden moments. You did the right thing. You resisted the easy path. I think of parents who give tough love to their children, the ethical worker, the steadfast Catholic. You picked up the cross and did the Lord’s will. And like the Transfiguration, no one knows about it. And it might never be known while you are on this earth.

Be at peace. You are in good company. The Lord sees your good work and he will bring grace out of your magnanimity.

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All are invited to join the Wednesday Scripture Study this Wednesday, August 9th at 9am in the Holy Family Chapel. We will discuss the upcoming Sunday readings. Sessions are not dependent on each other, so first-time attendees are more than welcome.

Today, Sunday, August 6th at 5pm is the Teen Mass. While the previous two Teen Masses were just for teens, we are going to open this Mass to everyone, so all are invited. The teens will be invited to stay afterwards for pizza and conversation if they are able.

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