Fr. James' Letters

March 10, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

Why do you think Christ chose to suffer and die on the cross?

There are many answers to this question. You could take the strictly theological approach and say Jesus was atoning for our sins by making the ultimate sacrifice and greatest act of love to God the Father. You could take the spiritual approach and say Jesus was showing us what it means to really live. Let me take that second, “spiritual approach” right now.

We have a natural tendency to try to preserve our lives. We want to live, so we take care of our bodies, we don’t walk out into traffic, we don’t pet a rattlesnake. That’s all fine. But this self-preservation, however, is corrupted a bit and becomes twisted (thanks to Adam and Eve). More than just preserving our lives, we tend to cling to our lives. This clinging means we obsess over our image, we feel threatened when someone else succeeds and we don’t, we grasp at pleasures that we think will enhance our lives, and we are stingy about paying compliments, being generous, encouraging, and forgiving. We are afraid that somehow we will be hurt if we forgive or are generous (without expecting anything in return) or if we miss out on the fun.

In other words, we avoid the cross.

The funny thing is, the more we avoid the cross, the more we actually die. Whereas embracing the cross and giving our lives away is how we truly live. Jesus said as much: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Matthew 16:25).

It requires a lot of trust to embrace the cross. It means really exercising faith that God will provide for us. Can I trust that I will be okay if I forgive the person who hurt me? Can I trust that I won’t miss out by not engaging in that gossip or that wrong behavior that makes me temporarily happy or popular? Can I forsake that thing I want and go hungry?

You can. You all have the strength within you to carry the cross. May you know that God will be with you and he will bless your sacrifice.

So, back to our opening question, Jesus suffered so that we would be able to suffer “successfully” as well. Jesus changed our DNA, if you will. If we were naturally inclined to preserve our life and, due to Adam and Eve, inclined to cling to our life, now we, who are baptized and confirmed in Jesus, are inclined to give our lives away for others. Carrying the cross and sacrificing for others–that’s the trademark of the saint.


This Friday, March 15th is the parish Friday Fish Fry sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Thank you to the KofC for their efforts. We hope to see you there. More details are in the bulletin. Stations of the Cross will also be taking place this Friday at 7pm in the church.

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.

Next Saturday, March 16th is the First Communion Retreat for our second graders and their parents. We will do a teaching Mass in the Holy Family Chapel starting at 9am, followed by the spiritual exercise of baking the bread. Thank you to Anna Mae Parkhill for organizing this day. The next First Communion Retreat will be on Saturday, April 13th.

Thank you to those who have contributed to our annual Lenten Almsgiving Project. This 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.

And thank you to all who contributed to the Annual Catholic Appeal for the Archdiocese of Chicago, helping us reach our goal of $145,569. Last year our goal was $142,718 and we raised $186,674.

Congratulations to all the participants in the SPC School Roundball tournament, which took place this past week. A special thanks to Ryan Fletcher and Joe Haugh for their efforts in organizing the event.

Finally, here is a brief look ahead to the Sacred Triduum and Easter schedule, for your planning purposes: Holy Thursday Mass at 7:30pm, Good Friday Veneration of the Cross at 3pm, Easter Basket Blessing on Holy Saturday at 11am, Easter Vigil Mass at 7:30pm, and then the regular Sunday schedule for Easter Sunday, with the addition of Masses in the gym at 9am and 10:30am.

Congratulations, you’re more than half-way through Lent.

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