Fr. James' Letters

February 4, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

We have a great scene in Mark’s Gospel this Sunday. Jesus, after preaching in the synagogue and exorcizing the man possessed by a demon, walks over to Peter’s house in Capernaum and cures his mother-in-law who had a simple fever (there’s no illness that’s too small for our Lord). By that evening the word has spread about Jesus’ power. The whole town is then gathered outside of Peter’s house, and Jesus performs a whole slew of miracles. It probably took several hours. Jesus, when the crowd has finally dispersed, doesn’t sit back with a glass of wine to unwind, but goes and prays. Peter hunts Jesus down, disrupts Jesus’ prayer, and Jesus, finishing his prayer, immediately leaves the town to go do the same in another village. 

Jesus very easily could have stayed in Capernaum. He could have built an even larger base of intentional disciples. But he chose to go wide and not necessarily deep. He wanted as many people as possible to see his face at least one time. He wanted as many people as possible to have a chance of some miracle.

There’s a little debate in the church among pastors these days about the distribution of the sacraments, particularly confirmation and marriage. Should you “restrict” the sacraments to those who really understand what they’re doing and truly want it? Or you should try to confirm and marry as many people as possible, even if they aren’t practicing their faith? The argument in favor of restriction is that by possibly denying a person, you might wake them up to start taking their faith more seriously. The downside is that you could lose the person forever. The argument in favor of the “catch all” is that you keep them in the church, even if nominally, and hope the grace from the sacrament converts them. The downside is the sacrament is cheapened and becomes a commodity.

As a pastor I do have an opinion on this…but I’m not going to put it in writing! You’ll have to ask me in person. 

I do think, however, that Jesus, at least in this moment in time, was taking the “catch all” approach. “The whole town was gathered at the door,” we’re told. Jesus poured out miracles to whoever approached him. He didn’t care about their sin or state of life. (But, be aware, there will be other occasions when Jesus won’t perform a miracle to those who ask, or will make the person work for it, like the Syrophoenician woman.)

Where do you stand right now before the Lord, you who are asking the Lord for something? Do you think he’s eager to give it to you, with questions asked? Or is he going to make you work for it?


This Saturday, February 3rd, is the feast of St. Blase, and so we will have the blessing of throats during the 8:30am Mass. We will also conduct the blessing of throats after the 4:30pm Mass, for anyone who wishes to stay.

We are excited next Saturday, February 10th, to welcome Bishop Bartosic to our parish to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for our 8th grade students. There will be a Mass at 10am and 1:30pm. Congratulations to the Confirmandi and their sponsors and families. And a special thank you to the teachers and catechists who have prepared these students for this important sacrament. Come, Holy Spirit!

I want to once again thank everyone who organized and supported the Celebrate the Spirit Gala last Friday evening. We had a great turnout and we raised significant funds to continue to support our teachers at SPC school.

As I mentioned in last week’s bulletin, we are in the midst of the Annual Catholic Appeal for the Archdiocese of Chicago. This campaign allows the Archdiocese to support struggling parish communities and schools, support ministry formation, and fund initiatives for justice, peace, and respect for life. Each parish is assessed 7% of the previous year’s offertory income, and so our goal this year is $145,569. We’ve been able to surpass our goal every year, so I ask you again to help make that possible. I’m very grateful for your generosity. Next weekend we will conduct the in-pew solicitation. Thank you to those who have already sent in their contributions.

Next Wednesday, February 14th is Ash Wednesday. It can’t hurt to start praying about your Lenten activities. More to come in next week’s bulletin about our opportunities here to pray and serve.

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