Fr. James' Letters

November 12, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Taking our Lord’s parable this weekend about the virgins waiting for the bridegroom to return in the middle of the night, let’s see ourselves as the virgins. We provide light for Jesus, the bridegroom. What would be the oil for our lamps?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the oil is our sins. Pause and think about that.  Our sins produce light for God. When we pray with our sins and hand them over to the Holy Spirit, that creates something good and pleasing for our Lord. (Prayer would be the lamp itself and the Holy Spirit would be the fire to light the oil in the lamp.)

My interpretation isn’t totally farfetched. In the Old Testament when Aaron, Moses' brother, is made high priest, he is instructed by God to build an oil lamp to light over the candlestick (cf. Numbers 8). This was in connection to the sin offering. That is, when the Israelites made atonement for their sins, this oil lamp was being used.

The prophet Zephaniah also said, "And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil' (Zephaniah 1:12).

Remember, Jesus is giving this parable after he has left Jerusalem, having denounced the Scribes and Pharisees, and is sitting on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city. He has given his diatribe about how the Pharisees are hypocrites. They are sinners but they do not really examine their sins. Instead they live with their sins and then impose a harsh system on others. He gives this parable of the virgins basically saying, 'if you want to meet God and know God, you have to examine your sins and offer them up to be burned away.'

We do this by the Sacrament of Confession, of course, as well as by Anointing of the Sick, which does actually forgive sins too. But that "oil" is going to run out, just like it did for the virgins. We need to go deeper in prayer with our sins. OK, you’re impatient, snap at your spouse and children, and go to confession… case closed? No. That's not enough. You’ve got to pray about your impatience, your family, and so forth. When we pray and go to the place of our struggle, then the Holy Spirit enters. He will use that oil and provide a light for Jesus and for the world.

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This Saturday, November 11th, which is Veterans Day, we will have a special recognition of our Veterans at the 4:30pm Mass. Following the Mass, the Apostolate of Women will be hosting a Veterans video in the Holy Family Chapel. All are invited to attend.

This Tuesday, November 14th is a parent Reconciliation meeting. I look forward to speaking to the parents of the children who will be making their first reconciliation.

Our Wednesday Morning Scripture Seminar will meet this Wednesday, November 15th at 9am in the Holy Family Chapel. Please join us. First time participants are welcome. We will not meet next Wednesday, November 22nd.

Next Saturday, November 18th is our special Food Pantry Thanksgiving Dinner Distribution. A special thanks to Jewel in Park Ridge for donating the turkeys and sides. A special thank you as well to Lisa Muench and the volunteers who not only help this Saturday, but help every month with the food distribution. Next month for Christmas we will distribute Wal-Mart gift cards (with the help of your donations) and ham dinners.

Please save-the-date, Tuesday, December 19th, for a special Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. I especially want to use this evening to thank the sacristans and schedulers, the bereavement ministers, the wedding coordinators, and the ministers of care. We are a large and busy parish, and we wouldn’t be able to provide our services without the help of all of you dedicated parishioners. A more formal invite will be going out to the volunteers in the ministries.

On that note, if you are interested in being involved in the parish, please consider signing up for one of our ministries. We are always in need of more bereavement ministers, wedding coordinators, and ministers of care. This is a very rewarding way to serve and encounter the Lord.

Congratulations to some of our SPC students and their STEM teacher Dr. Karl Oschner, who were filmed by CBS this past week (and WGN last week). They won a national competition by NASA!

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