Fr. James' Letters

March 24, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

I was doing Stations of the Cross a couple weeks ago with our Religious Education classes, and one of the 4th graders asked me how Jesus was able to hang on the cross. I told the student that the nails fixed him in place: one in each hand and one through his feet. Then the student asked if ropes were used to hold Jesus in place. I said the Roman soldiers might have used ropes around his wrists, but we’re not sure. We know they used nails.

When I was walking back to the rectory afterwards that simple question stuck with me. It made me recall something I read recently in one of St. Catherine of Siena’s letters (I’ve been reading five thick volumes of her letters lately). In fact, Catherine mentions many times throughout her letters to different individuals–to popes, priests, nuns, laypeople–that it was not the nails that actually held Jesus to the cross but love. For instance, she wrote in February 1372 to Neri de Landoccio Pagliaresi, a young Sienese nobleman and poet: “Love held [Jesus] fast. As the saints say, neither cross nor nails could have held him, were it not for the bond of divine charity.”

Catherine of Siena would have smiled at this student’s question! And she would have smacked me in the back of the head for such a quick, dismissive response.

Some scholars think Jesus wouldn’t have actually been nailed through his palms, since there’s no way nails through the palms could have held the weight of his body. They say, instead, he would have been nailed through the wrists. And you might even see some depictions of the crucifixion with nails through the wrist.

Notwithstanding the fact that Jesus specifically showed Thomas, after the Resurrection, his hands and his side (not to mention the Shroud of Turin and many other arguments in favor of the nailing into the hands), to Catherine of Siena and that 4th grader’s point, Jesus didn’t need to be held up by nails, be they in the hands or wrist.  He was held up by his love for us and his desire to die for each one of us.

Catherine of Siena goes on in her letter: “It is here on the cross then that I want you to gaze. Let the eye of your understanding rest here always. Here you will discover and fall in love…”

The cross is the focus this week. Look at it in our church. Look at it on the walls of your home. Look at it on the rosary in your hand. Jesus gave himself for you. May we give ourselves for him.


Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. Please be sure to check the Triduum schedule in the bulletin and note that our Passion of the Lord service with the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday will be at 3pm this year.

This Sunday is the Blood Drive in the gym. And on Monday evening we will have the Candlelight Rosary.

I wanted to give you a quick update on our maintenance efforts these past few weeks. We have very old buildings, so, as you can imagine, our boiler and heat carrier units are constantly breaking. Here’s what we’ve done…In the Early Grade (EGC) building we fixed our heating and cooling units that had been leaking. One of the boiler pumps in the rectory broke, meaning half the rectory was cold for several days, but we repaired that. The Kinane Center heating units that had been malfunctioning were corrected. The pump on the boiler in the church, which is the oldest unit on the campus, has been replaced, and we have plans to make significant repairs to this boiler, which will be costly. We also have plans to repair the roof HAVC and heating carriers in the Upper Grade Center (UGC). Finally, even in our newest building, the food pantry, we had a leak in the heating unit, which was repaired. Our maintenance team is doing an admirable job keeping up with all of these repairs. One of the biggest struggles we face is not so much the breakdown of the unit, but the delay in receiving the replacement parts. For instance, there is a 2-year lead time for the boiler and cooling system parts in the upper church. This makes it very difficult to time when the parts will come in/when the unit will break, not to mention budget for it. All of this is to say, thank you for your continued contributions to the parish, particularly to our Sunday collection. These repairs and replacements have been (and will continue to be) significant expenses, but we are making them thanks to your generosity.

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.

E-Newsletter Signup!

Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

View Larger Map

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