Fr. James' Letters

March 03, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

When Jesus had finished cleansing the temple, which would have been an incredibly dramatic scene, the people standing around asked him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” I could imagine Jesus catching his breath amidst fluttering birds with hay, coins, and broken tables scattered on the ground. It would be like a parent walking into the bedroom of two children having a pillow-fight. A total mess.

The people who question Jesus don’t seem to be upset the way a parent would be upset walking into the disaster zone that is their child’s bedroom. They don’t even want to know why Jesus was doing this. It’s like they already understood why Jesus would do this. The Jews themselves accepted the temple was in a corrupt, pitiable state. It needed to be cleaned out. They were probably relieved Jesus took it upon himself to drive out the money changers and animals.

Rather, the authorities wanted to know what approval Jesus had for doing this, for he wasn’t the chief priest, nor was he in charge of the temple. They’re missing the point. The temple has been cleansed. The goal of proper worship has been achieved! This is something Jews would have been looking forward to for decades. Now that it’s here, why trifle over how it got done? Why not just go forward with a new temple and a new era of worship?

Jesus comes periodically into our heart, into our home, and into our church to whip us into shape. We read or hear something and we realize we need to change. Or, something out of the ordinary happens in our home–an illness, a spouse leaving, a flooded basement–and we realize the way we’re operating at home needs to change. Or, we get a new priest or a new pope or whoever who shakes us up, and the Church realizes it needs to be attentive to something new (see Pope Francis). All of these happenings are Jesus coming in with his bullwhip. 

While we know innately the shakeup was needed for we were not happy with the way things had been going, we generally resist the change. We don’t want to take a risk and would rather go back to the old, mediocre, joyless routine. 

Pay attention to little changes in your life. Ask God for the grace to take advantage of the moment and go forward with your new setting. Generally it’s our Lord’s attempt to make our lives better. He cleansed the temple not because he was a neat freak, but because he wanted to help the Jewish people.


Many of our teens will be away this weekend on the annual CRUX Overnight Retreat. Please keep them in your prayers, as well as the adult team leaders. May this be a profound experience of Jesus for them all.

If you missed last week’s bulletin, please pray for the repose of Fr. Dan Smilanic, who passed away on Tuesday, February 20th. God bless Father Smilanic and his many years of service as a priest.

Our Wednesday morning Scripture Seminar will be at 9am in the Holy Family Chapel this week. All are welcome to discuss the upcoming Sunday readings. Stations of the Cross will be this Friday at 7pm in the Church.

Thank you to those who have contributed to our annual Lenten Almsgiving Project. Next weekend we will be hearing from our seminarian Lee Noel about his experience in the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, the area we are supporting this year. You can find donation envelopes and flyers about the effort in the church.

Finally, we are looking to begin a new ministry here in the parish: Wedding Mentor Couples. This would be a married couple here in the parish who works with an engaged couple preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage at Saint Paul of the Cross. These mentor couples are different from the wedding coordinators, who run the rehearsal and attend to the bridal party on the day of the wedding. The mentor couple would work with the couple in the months leading up to the wedding day, giving them advice and wisdom about marriage, life in the church, prayer, and so on. The mentor couple might also check in after the wedding with the newlyweds, helping get them plugged into the church. If you are interested in being a mentor couple, please reach out to Nick Testa (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) in the parish office. This would be a great service to our parish and to our young married couples, and it might also be helpful for your own marriage!

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