Fr. James' Letters

May 26, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

A parishioner recently gave me the 2023 book, The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man by David Von Drehle (thank you, Jane). The author tells the life story of Charlie White, a doctor from Kansas City who died at the age of 109 in 2014. Charlie lived through the century that experienced the greatest amount of change in human history, everything from the airplane to penicillin to the computer.

          I’ve offered in this column mostly positive reviews of books I’ve read, so I figure it’s time for a negative review. I didn’t like the book. I’m grateful for the gift and grateful to have read it, but it’s essentially a long eulogy. Sure, there were some interesting experiences the man had in his life. And, sure, there were a few good take-aways about how to live well: smile often, practice patience, think freely, savor special moments, and so forth. But when I finished the book, I thought to myself, Is that it?

           It isn’t a knock against Charlie White. It’s more a knock on the author and the aim of the book, which seems to be presented as “the key to life.” Arguably this 109-year-old man, whom the author characterizes as a stoic, figured it out. But there’s more to life than, well, life. And I’m not interested in the key to life. I’m interested in the key to the Holy Trinity.

           Charlie lived 109 years and was happy. And now it’s all gone for him. The book doesn’t say anything more about Charlie’s existence. It should, for we know (or, at least, we hope and pray) Charlie is actually right now living the best possible life with God the Trinity in heaven. The happiness and the experiences he enjoyed on earth pale in comparison to what he enjoys now. And there’s no end to it. This is the happiness I want to hear about.

            Charlie’s earthly happiness was unique to him. He had some luck and good genes. Not all of us have that. Not all of us can live the way he did. But every single one of us can possess spiritual joy and eternal happiness. Everyone of us can know the Trinity. And when we know and love the Trinity, we won’t necessarily have a long life free from suffering (look at the martyrs), but we will have a life of real meaning. And we will be guaranteed eternity.

            The Book of Charlie? No thanks. The Book of Jesus Christ? Yes please. Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity.


Happy Memorial Day weekend to all of you. We pray in a special way for all of those men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation. We wouldn’t be here today without their sacrifice. May they rest in peace, enjoying their eternal reward. And may God bless America.

            There will be no 6:25am Mass tomorrow, Monday, May 27th, nor will there be daily Confessions at 8am. We will have just the 8:30am Mass that day for Memorial Day.

            This is a special week for our 8th graders at SPC School. Tuesday they have their Memory Dinner, Video and Dance, and Wednesday evening is their graduation. Congratulations, students, on your career, and thank you, parents and teachers, for guiding these young men and women over the years.

            This Wednesday, May 29th at 9am all are invited to join our parish May Crowning (please note the change of time and date from previous letters). We will have a communal rosary recited immediately following the 8:30am Mass, and then around 9:20am we will say a few more prayers, sing hymns, and have a little reflection on Mary, based on the book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary we have given away.

            The Men’s Club will have a cigar social at Park Ridge Country Club this Thursday, May 30th at 6:30pm.

            Next weekend is the feast of Corpus Christi. Father Nick will lead a Eucharistic Procession outside around the parish after the Saturday 4:30pm Mass for those interested. Also, that Sunday, June 2nd in the gym during Donut Sunday and New Parishioner Sign-Up, members of our Adoration Chapel Team will be present to answer any questions you might have about Eucharistic Adoration and have sign-ups available to take an hour spot as a committed adorer.

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