Father James Wallace

Happy Thanksgiving

Letters from a Pastor to His People - November 26, 2020

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Juliana,

Thanksgiving is a great and unique American holiday.  Countries have independence days, memorial days, and labor days, but not every country has a day totally dedicated to giving thanks.  We stop and force ourselves, in a way, to be grateful.  We break out of Ourselves and look beyond to an Other who is good and who has blessed us.  This fills us with consolation, peace, and hope.  Yes, Thanksgiving is a good day. 

Why do you let us wander, O LORD?

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 29, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I don't know about you, but I close my eyes a lot when I pray.  This is a personal preference.  I feel when my eyes are closed I am able to more easily clear away distractions and descend to the depths of my soul to be simply with the Lord.  Closing my eyes puts me in a posture of receptivity.  Not that I sunbathe a lot, but I think of people soaking in the rays on the beach.  Their eyes are closed as they relax to just be in the moment.

Our Lady of the Redwoods

There is a monastery of Cistercian nuns in Northern California called "Our Lady of the Redwoods," and what a fitting title indeed for our Blessed Mother.  The Redwood, known as the Sequoia sempervirens (sounds similar to semper virgo, or ever-virgin), is the tallest tree on the planet, growing up to 300 feet and beyond.  It is also the oldest species of tree, dating back to 240 million years. 

Father William Doyle, SJ

Father William Doyle, SJ was a well-known preacher and spiritual director in the early 20th Century.  He traveled the world giving missions and retreats, helping bring people closer to Jesus.  And yet he wrote these words in his journal while making the Spiritual Exercises on his 30-Day retreat in 1907:

Each fresh meditation of the life of our Lord impressed on me more and more the necessity of conforming my life to His in every detail, if I wish to please Him and to become holy. To do something great and heroic may never come to me, but I can make my life heroic by faithfully and daily putting my best effort into each duty as it comes around.

Christ the King Solemnity

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 22, 2020

Dear Parishioners,      

I've always enjoyed the Solemnity of Christ the King, which we celebrate this weekend—the last weekend in Ordinary Time.  But the feast took on greater significance for me on my 30-Day Retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola that I did this past July.

Ignatius begins the Second Week of the Exercises with a meditation titled, "The Call of the King." This profound meditation is like the ostinato of a symphony—a motif or melody that repeats throughout the entire piece.  The graces and insights from the meditation with Jesus the King will repeat not only throughout the next three weeks of the Exercises, but throughout one's life.

God Is The House & The House Always Wins

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 15, 2020

Dear Parishioners,      

This parable about the talents has grown on me over the years.  Earlier in my life and priesthood, I sympathized with the poor chap who received one talent and buried it.  I thought the master's reaction was unfair.  I'm conservative with money by nature (I don't like to gamble), so I didn't see anything wrong with the one-talent servant not losing the money. 

The Angel's Share

Occasionally I will have a sip of something when I read scripture, either coffee in the morning or a beer in the evening, but often not grappa.  I felt inclined to have that digestivo, however, when I read this line from the prophet Isaiah: "Thus says the Lord: When the juice is pressed from grapes, men say 'Do not discard them, for there is still good in them'; Thus will I do with my servants; I will not discard them all" (Isaiah 65:8).

Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Most of the "O" streets in Chicago come from either Native American tribes or chiefs, like Osceola and Ottawa, or from real estate developers, like Olcott and Odell.  But one street name in Edison Park is different: Ozanam.  The 7800W to 7600N section of the city is named after Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

Being Intentional & Mindful

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 8, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

A parishioner recently gave me a gift: a baseball signed by the 1971 Chicago Cubs.  The parishioner had this baseball in their possession for many years and wanted to pass it on to a Cubs fan.  There are some great signatures on the ball: Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, and so on.  It was a very thoughtful gift and the ball is sitting proudly on one of the shelves in the living room of the rectory, next to a statue of Mary.

Filled With the Fire of the Holy Spirit

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 1, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Today, November 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints.  This is a holy day of obligation, but because the feast falls on a Sunday this year, we kill two birds with one stone!

I've noticed, and many of you have jokingly remarked to me, that in my homilies on a particular saint's feast day I'll say, "such and such is one of my favorite saints" or "she's definitely in my top 5."  And my "top 5" is like 500.