Fr. James' Letters

Commit to Faith

At the beginning of this Lenten season we are highly motivated to jump start our spiritual lives and we probably have made some practical resolutions. I would like to encourage you to use this time of grace for our spiritual growth. A few days ago, Bishop Francis Kane was at our parish to confirm our young men and women. During the confirmation liturgy, he gave a strong homily that challenged our young people to commit themselves to their Catholic faith. I believe his words will profit all of us if we put them into practice.

The bishop asked our confirmandi to do four things which all of us need to carry out in our own lives. During this Lent our parish offers many opportunities to achieve these four goals. To know the faith: How can we love something if we do not know what it is? In order to be committed to our faith, we must first of all be familiar with it. I know that most of us learned our faith when we were very young. Unfortunately for most of us our faith education stopped at eighth grade or so. Now that we are adults, we need to revisit that faith and make it our own. This Lent our parish is offering us a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the richness of our faith. We are using the wonderful DVD series developed by Fr Bob Barron, “Catholicism” to come to a deeper understanding of our Catholic heritage. Join us on the next two Mondays either in the morning or in the evening in the Kinane Center. While we will finish watching the first three DVDs this Lent, we will continue our journey through this series during the remainder of the year.

To live the faith: Our faith is not merely a set of doctrines or even a code of moral conduct. It is an invitation to establish a personal relationship with the living person of Jesus Christ. The next step that we must take this season is to live our faith. Every time we go to Mass, at the end the priest says: “Go forth, the Mass is ended!” He is not merely announcing the end of our liturgical celebration. He is challenging us to live the Word we heard during Mass. He is calling on us to practice what the Lord has taught us. We need to live the faith outside the doors of the Church. We practice our faith particularly by holding ourselves to the standards of the gospel, the norms of the Sermon on the Mount. We live our faith by being compassionate and loving to all, especially the poor and the weak. We give witness to our faith by raising our voices for the voiceless against the injustices of our world. To pray the faith: Committing to our faith is unlike following a political ideology or belonging to a group of do-gooders. It is a spiritual endeavor which can be accomplished only through the power of the Holy Spirit. In order to become faith-filled, we need to become men and women of prayer. Each one of us has to develop our own personal prayer life. This Lenten season our parish offers us ample opportunities to nurture our personal lives of prayer. Daily Mass, frequent confession , becoming a committed Eucharistic adorer, reciting the Rosary after Mass and taking time for personal prayer are all ways to deepen our prayer life. On Fridays of Lent, we will have an hour of silent adoration followed by the Stations of the Cross and Benediction. This year we also have our parish Lenten Mission which will focus on our call to holiness. I hope all of us will make a commitment to participate in the Mission which, I promise, will be inspiring.

To celebrate the faith: As Catholics we understand that our faith is always communitarian. We do not stand before God merely as individuals. God calls us to Himself as members of the community of faith. It is not enough to engage in personal prayer. We need to participate in the prayer of the community. The Sunday Eucharist is the pre-eminent moment of community prayer. We are at our best when we are at the Eucharist. Especially during this Lenten I encourage everyone to commit to the Sunday Eucharist. Just as we form and strengthen our bonds of family around the dinner table, we forge and reinforce our bonds as Church around the Eucharistic table. I shall leave you with the encouraging words of Pope Leo the Great who was addressing the faithful in the middle of the fifth century:

And so, dearly beloved, what every Christian should always be doing must now be performed more earnestly and more devoutly. These forty days, instituted by the apostles, should be given over to fasting which means, not simply a reduction in our food, but the elimination of our evil habits.

May the Spirit of God sustain us in our Lenten journey!

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)


8:00 am (UC) - weekday Mass

4:30 pm (UC and HFC) - vigil


7:30 am (UC)

9:00 am (UC and HFC)

10:30 am (UC and HFC)

12:00 pm (UC)