Fr. James' Letters

July 7, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Paul reveals something personal in his second letter to the Corinthians, our second reading today, something about which scholars have discussed and speculated for the last two thousand years. “That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.”

            What was this “thorn in the flesh” to which Paul was referring? Was it something physical, like a lisp or a speech impediment or a limp? Was it something more emotional or psychological, like anxiety or depression or anger? Was it a relative who was troubled, an old friend from his days prior to his conversion who painfully reminded him of his past, or an annoying confrere in Christianity? We’re not sure. All we know is that it really bothered Paul and that he finally learned to accept it. He writes, “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’.”

            Can you relate to Paul? Do you have a “thorn in the flesh”? Would anyone know what it is?

            A thorn is much different than, say, a sword or a bullet or something more serious. A thorn is painful and annoying, but it is not life-threatening. Cancer, for instance, would not qualify as your “thorn in the flesh.” It’s too serious. The pathetic play of the Chicago Cubs of late wouldn’t qualify as a thorn either. It’s too light. The Cubs would be more like a mosquito bite.

            When I was praying about this myself, my first thought was that I don’t really have a thorn in the flesh in my life. My life is pretty good and, again, my “complaints” wouldn’t qualify as thorns–they’d be more like mosquito bites at best. Probably more on the level of a cicada. But praying about it some more, and realizing Paul wouldn’t have included this personal tidbit for no reason, I do see that I have a thorn in the flesh. And this is a good thing. For, like Paul said, this has forced me to confront my weakness. I can’t remove this thorn myself. I have to rely on God and his grace. The weakness thus becomes a point of union with God.

            When we are confronted by our thorns in the flesh, instead of getting angry or depressed about it, or spending energy strategizing about how to remove it, the invitation is to pray about it. We are called to surrender to God and ask him to give us strength to deal appropriately with the thorn. This gives us humility and it also puts us in a position to listen to God in a deep way. God usually speaks comforting words to us and shows us his plan; that the thorn is no mark against us and that it is actually a gift.

            Paul says the thorn “was given to him.” That’s pretty remarkable. It’s not just some random thing happening in his life he has to pray about. God gave him a thorn. We like to only think God gives us roses, but, no, he gives us thorns too. And those thorns become our crowns.


We are hosting in our gym next Friday, July 12th from 3pm-5pm an Uncle Pete’s Sack Lunch making event. We are looking for volunteers to help put together lunches for the poor, particularly teenagers. If you’d like more information, please email Leni Duffy (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Thank you to those who are helping coordinate.

            Please see my letters from the last two weeks about the Archdiocesan capital campaign and the projects our parish is hoping to accomplish.

            Starting this week you’ll find in the pews a prayer card. Feel free to fill one out whenever you want and, like the instructions on the card say, either drop in the collection basket for the ushers or hand to the priest after Mass. This is part of an effort of intercession I’d like our parish to undertake. A large part of my priestly ministry and pastorate is praying for you and your intentions, so any time you need a prayer, either let me know or fill out one of those cards.

            I hope you are all enjoying these summer days and staying cool. Blessings to your family and safe travels if you are out and about.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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