Fr. James' Letters

February 18, 2024

Dear Parishioners,


One of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language is desert/ dessert. Desert is the place where Jesus spent forty days; a dry, barren area of land. Dessert is a butterfinger blizzard from Dairy Queen. Kind of ironic how closely these two words are spelled while being so vastly different. I remember one time a brother priest emailing me saying he would be unresponsive the next day, since he was doing a “dessert day.” He meant to write a “desert day,” which is when you unplug from communication and spend the day in prayer, like a one-day silent retreat. I envisioned him laying on a couch surrounded by Portillo’s chocolate cakes, candy bars, and Oreos.

And yet, the two words do actually fit together nicely. The desert can indeed be like a dessert. The DQ blizzard satisfies the taste buds for the five minutes it took to eat (or 2 minutes, if you’re me), but the satisfaction from being in the desert with Jesus lasts days and weeks. The desert might be a sacrifice in the moment because you’re struggling to be silent in prayer or you’re giving up watching TV, but the desert fills you with a positive energy and peace that is much better for you than that temporary pleasure. Time alone with God truly is the sweetest experience.

I remember how surprised I was at first when I was sent over to Rome to complete my seminary studies about breakfast in Europe. Italians and most other Europeans don’t eat breakfast the way Americans do. No bacon, eggs, pancakes, sausage, cereal. Instead, it was a cup of espresso or a cappuccino, and a cornetto, which was basically a glazed croissant.  Sometimes the cornetto had chocolate in or on it, and sometimes a whole bunch of nutella would be slathered over the pastry. In other words, dessert for breakfast.  And then, walking back from class about midday, it wasn’t uncommon to stop for a quick gelato. Dessert for lunch. Of course there’d be some biscotti after dinner. Dessert all day long. Amazingly, Italians weren’t as heavyset or unhealthy as Americans.

You might try taking the Italian approach to prayer this Lent. Give up dessert, sure, but go to the desert three times a day. Spend a few minutes when you wake up in the morning (unplug and go to bed earlier if you need to wake up earlier) in prayer. Take a moment in the middle of your day, perhaps on your lunch break, and go for a prayer walk with God. Tell him what’s on your mind and heart. At some point in the evening after dinner, find a quiet place in your house to reflect on the day or maybe even read the Gospel passage from the day. Praying this much will require a change in your routine and some sacrifices, but you won’t regret it. Your soul will be healthy and you’ll have joy.


A reminder that during Lent we will have Stations of the Cross every Friday at 7pm.  There are also daily Lenten reflections that you can find each week in the bulletin, as well as online. 

This weekend individuals will be passing out brown bags with instructions for Uncle Pete’s Collection. Thank you to those organizing the effort and all of you for participating. Next weekend we will collect all the filled bags.

Monday, February 19th is President’s Day, and so there will be no 6:25am Mass that morning; only the 8:30am Mass. There is also no school that day.

We resume our Wednesday Scripture Seminar this week, February 21st, at 9am in the Holy Family Chapel.

Thank you to all who have contributed to the Annual Catholic Appeal for the Archdiocese of Chicago, helping us reach our goal of $145,569. Your contribution not only allows the Archdiocese to support struggling parishes and schools, but allows us to fulfill our needs and continue our mission.

Finally, you’ll have noticed our redesigned bulletin. A special thanks to Mark Hutchinson, our new Director of Communications, for his efforts here. We are looking to give the bulletin a name. Decades ago SPC’s bulletin was called “The Chimes.” If you have any suggestions, feel free to email them to me. Other ideas are “The Passionist,” “The Pew Report,” “The SPC Chronicle.” A blessed Lent to all of you.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James Wallace

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