Fr. James' Letters

March 17, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

In our Gospel scene this weekend we hear about some Greeks wanting to see Jesus. When a Greek wants to “see” someone, they don’t just want to see their face. They want to see the person’s soul. Because the Greeks are philosophers (think of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, who said “the unexamined life is not worth living”), they want to really know who Jesus is. They want to see if Jesus is worth loving and following.

This simple scene of Greeks coming to Philip, who was Greek as well (Philippos is a Greek name), lets us think about the three aspects of religion. Let’s call them the Greek, the Roman, and the Hebrew aspects.

The Greek aspect, as we have mentioned, is philosophy. Catholicism has a great philosophical tradition, which would be our theology. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, used Aristotle and Plato in his thinking. Our understanding of God and our beliefs aren’t irrational and random. They make sense and they are beautiful.

The Hebrew aspect is worship. The Jews, of course, were monotheistic and had the whole system of ritual in place around the temple and feast days. Catholics follow, in many ways, the temple ritual and festal cycle. Our form of worship helps us be in touch with God and helps give us grace to live our lives in a fruitful way.

Finally, the Roman aspect is the structure of law and culture. Romans had a sophisticated legal and political system, which they needed to govern the vast empire. They organized armies, built cities and roads, and had an established network of commerce. In Catholicism we have a governing structure with the pope, bishops, and priests. We have a codified system of canon law. We have parishes and buildings and schools and charitable efforts and on and on. This is the “institutional side” of the church. The institution often is denigrated, but it’s necessary to ensure the mission. The Greek and Hebrew components might be more elegant, but, remember, the Romans conquered both the Greeks and Jews.

Only in Catholicism do we have all three components. The inscription above the cross that Pilate had made--INRI (Jesus the Nazorene the King of the Jews)--was actually written in three languages: Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. And not only are these three present in our church generally, they are present specifically in the Eucharist. We worship the one God here at the Mass (Hebrew). We receive deep fulfillment from receiving Jesus (Greek). And the Eucharist has laws and regulations around it to ultimately give us the means to go out and help bring others into relationship with God (Roman).

Saint Patrick of Ireland, whose feast we celebrate today, demonstrates the tripartite aspect of Catholicism well. He set up a system of churches and a culture in Ireland (Roman). He taught about the worship of one God and the Trinity to the pagan Celtic peoples (Hebrew). And he instilled a spiritual life, or a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, in the Irish people (Greek). Saint Patrick, pray for us that we can see the face of Jesus and live.


The parish Griefshare program begins this Tuesday, March 19th at 6:30pm. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one and could use both some wisdom and fellowship from fellow mourners, consider joining our group. A special thank you to Deacon Andy and the leaders.

Please note there will be no Wednesday morning Scripture Seminar this week on Wednesday, March 20th. We will be off the next few weeks due to Holy Week and Easter. We will resume on Wednesday, April 10th.

Please keep in your prayers our RCIA candidates and catechumens who will be entering the Church at the Easter Vigil and completing the sacraments of initiation: Jack Leach, Rose Kosatka, Jamie Russo, Alyssa O’Donnell, Renee Mark, Max Wagner, Jonathan Lopes, Jenesis Lopez, Luis Vargas, Alfredo Torres, Delaney Starwalt. Congratulations to you all and a special thank you to Beshar Bahjat and his RCIA team for leading these individuals to God.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Please be sure to check the schedule in the bulletin and note there are no morning Masses on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

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