Fr. James' Letters

November 19, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Ah, the parable of the talents, one of our Lord’s most striking parables. Three individuals are given different amounts of gold and silver (‘talent’ was a large sum of money). The two trade with their talent and double their amount. The one buries the talent and is condemned. What’s the deal?

In my humble opinion, this is about trust in God. The man given five talents and the man given three talents both trust in God. They accept that the master has judged their capability and given them the appropriate amount of talent. They go off and trade with it, trusting that this is the right thing to do, even if they happen to lose their talents. The man with one talent does not trust in God. This is why he buries the talent, and this is why he is thrown out. There’s no point in being with someone you don’t trust. The one-talent servant doesn’t trust in the master and so he has no place in his home.

How would you pray with this parable and, more pointedly, apply this parable to yourself? Here’s one possibility…

We are all three individuals. There are some areas in our life where we’ve been given five talents, three talents, and one talent. For example, some of you are incredibly successful in your careers and love(d) your job. You were given five talents and you doubled that amount. You are pretty good parents or neighbors or citizens – here you were given three talents. You struggle with prayer, you don’t really know your faith or understand the Mass or whatever, and you feel like your moral life is a constant uphill battle. In other words, one talent.

That’s just an example. Maybe it’s some mixture of the three or whatever. Either way, reflect on your “five-category,” “three-category,” and “one-category.” Give thanks to God for the “five” and “three,” and ask for trust in the “one.”

I’d be curious to hear your categories (I’ll keep it secret). I wonder if anyone would list their faith in the “five-category.” If you do, please talk to me, as I could probably learn from you and be able to use you for the parish!

Let me get to a point here. Remember, the amount of talent given is a gift from God. It is determined by him. We can’t make ourselves into the “five-category.” It is what it is. And that’s fine. We don’t need to make ourselves a “five” in everything. All we need to do is trade with what we have. If you look at the parable you’ll see the guy with five talents isn’t judged better than the guy with three. They are equal. The guy with one talent would have been equal too if he had just traded with it and not condemned himself as bad and “useless” (Jesus’ term for the guy).

I know people who are “one-category” when it comes to their faith. Prayer, the moral life, being in the Church isn’t easy for them, or they don’t know much about their faith. But they keep trying. They ask questions. They give what little they have to God. They believe. All of this is trading with their one talent. They’ve doubled their talent, and they’re just as great as Mother Teresa or Saint Thomas Aquinas or whoever.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Amadeus,” Salieri names himself the “patron saint of mediocrity.” I wish there was such an actual saint, a patron saint of one talent. I’ll pray you become it one day.

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Once again, a special thank you to Jewel grocery store in Park Ridge for donating the turkeys and Thanksgiving dinner sides for our food pantry distribution this past Saturday, November 18th. And thank you to all the volunteers from the parish who assisted in the distribution.

This Sunday, November 19th we will have our Teen-Ministered Mass at the 12pm Mass in the Upper Church. This is the regular scheduled 12pm Mass, so everyone is invited. We will be having teens serve as Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers, and one of our teens will give a reflection after communion.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you have a wonderful week and holiday. Welcome back, college students, and a warm welcome to other family members visiting. Safe travels to those who will be away. Our special Thanksgiving Mass on Thursday, November 23rd will be at 10am. We hope you can attend to give thanks to God before we all fill our bellies!

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