Fr. James' Letters

November 5, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

I remember having a football coach one time run sprints with us at the end of practice. Normally, as you know, the coaches watch the players run the sprints and blow the whistle. But not this coach. He was with us. This motivated me and inspired me. I wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t even going to grumble about the labor. I wanted to do this because someone I respected was doing it. And besides, I couldn’t let this old man outdo me in sprints!

Jesus gives this knock against the Pharisees: “They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.”

We are called not just to show people the way, but to actually help them ourselves; to run the sprints with them. We can’t take the load entirely away from them. People will have to run. But we can carry some, or most, of the load. Think of Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross. He didn’t stand off to the side, saying “c’mon, put your back into it and use your legs more.” He might have said some words of encouragement to Jesus, but he actually lifted the cross.

I think I come across as pretty confident when I preach. It’s public speaking, so guess I have to appear confident. But I actually have a lot of “fear and trembling,” so to say, when I preach. I don’t take preaching lightheartedly and I don’t want the message to be fluff. It’s serious, and I realize I’m placing a demand on you in the homily (pray more, forgive this person, etc.). It’s not easy for me to say what I’m saying.

And I don’t want to be a pharisee. I want to run with you. I want to lift the load alongside you.

One of the things I do, therefore, is practice my homily on myself. I pray about the homily all throughout the week and generally have a sense of what the Lord is calling me to say. I’ll then implement the message in my prayer or think about it. Do I need to forgive someone? How can my relationship to Christ be more authentic? Where can I be more open and trusting? and so on, depending on the homily’s message. I see this as part of carrying the burden for you.

The other thing I do with the homily (and, well, in everything else), is I pray for you. I’m not just preaching to an empty church or to a camera. I think of you all specifically and I offer my life for you, especially when I break the bread and consume the Eucharist. I pray that offering is helping you carry the burden of your life.

Please do this yourself. Think of the people in your life who need a prayer. They are struggling in whatever way. You might know what they need to do, but they don’t know it themselves. Or, they know it, but they don’t have the willpower to do it. Carry the load for them. Pray for them. Offer your Eucharist for them. Make some other sacrifice for them. You’ll run the sprints with them and you’ll help them finish.

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The All Souls Books of Remembrance are located in the back of the church as well as up front by the Mary altar in the church. Please write down a name or intention so we can pray for you and your loved ones.

Father Nick will celebrate a special Mass for the Knights of Columbus, praying for the deceased knights, this Monday, November 6th at 6:30pm. On Tuesday, our regularly scheduled school Mass will honor all of our First Responders. Parents who are First Responders are invited to attend the Mass and even dress in uniform, if they so wish. We will give you a special blessing.

Our Wednesday Scripture Seminar resumes this week at 9am in the Holy Family Chapel.

We hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Halloween last week (see Dr. M’s costume in the above picture), and thank you to all who attended Mass on All Saints and All Souls.

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