Fr. James' Letters

October 22, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

My priest friends make fun of me for clipping coupons out of the newspaper. Now, I’m not a professional coupon collector, like I know some people are, but I also don’t ignore a good coupon when I see one. For instance, a few months ago was a coupon for White Castle: buy five sliders, get five sliders free. My friends weren’t laughing at me when I brought home for dessert a sack of ten sliders. I was a hero. And the other week was a coupon for Dairy Queen: buy one blizzard and get a second blizzard for just 99 cents. Gold.

A coupon is an interesting concept. Does it really benefit the consumer? I’m no genius, but something tells me there is a gimmick involved and somehow the seller is the ultimate winner. Perhaps it is because the coupon entices the person to spend money when he normally wouldn’t. We cannot pass up a good deal, even though we do not need the product. Did I really need five White Castle sliders?

And, yet, there is still something exciting in the coupon. We do feel like we are winners. The excess coupons also allow us to give to others. I’m going to Dairy Queen and now I’m happy to invite you along and buy you a blizzard, for it will only cost me 99 cents. The coupon is communion.

There were no coupons in the Temple in Ancient Israel. Buy three turtledoves and get the fourth free! Pay eleven months of temple tax up front and the twelfth month is on us… just tell them Caiaphas sent you! Nope, no coupons. No deals. Pay the temple tax in full or go home.

Same in Ancient Rome. No breaks on the census tax. Pay the tax or go to prison (or worse).

I’m bringing all this up because today’s Gospel scene takes place in the temple with the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus by asking him whether Jews should pay the Roman census tax. Jesus had not yet ushered in the Kingdom of Coupons, so, yes, the Jews needed to pay in full the Roman census tax.

I like to think now is a different situation. With Jesus we are able to use coupons, figuratively speaking. Spend some time in prayer and receive grace not just for yourself, but for your family member who is suffering or fallen away from the Church. Confess that sin and get the other sin half off! Learn about your faith and Scripture with no down payment!

What kind of deal are you looking for right now in your faith? Pray about it. I bet there is a coupon out there for you. And because our God is loving and merciful, we can trust the coupon actually will benefit us. We will all be savers in the end.

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A special thank you again to all who both participated in and donated to the Clothing Drive/Stuff-the-Truck last weekend. It was a great success and much appreciated for those who will need warm clothing this winter.

This weekend the Respect Life Committee will be distributing Baby Bottles for the women’s shelter. Please take a bottle or two home with you. The filled bottles can be brought back until November 5th. Thank you for your generosity, and a special thank you to the Respect Life team for organizing this collection.

This Saturday, October 28th is a special retreat and day of formation for the Ministers of Care. The morning will start at 8:30am with Mass at Our Lady of Hope. We are in need of more ministers of care (people who take communion to the sick and homebound). If you are interested in learning more about the ministry, please contact Ann Vidovic.

I am leading a retreat this week and will be away from the parish Monday afternoon through Thursday afternoon. I will be keeping you all in prayer. Please pray for me and the retreatants to whom I will be speaking.

There will be no Wednesday Scripture Seminar this Wednesday, October 25th at 9am. The following week will also be canceled, Wednesday, November 1st, because of All Saints Day. We will resume on Wednesday, November 8th.

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