Father James Wallace

Lord of our Hearts

Dear Parishioners,

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts (1 Pet 3:15).” What an interesting exhortation from our second reading this weekend. First, it is amazing to think that we can sanctify Christ. Usually we see it the other way around—Christ sanctifies us. He does, yes, but we also make Jesus holy. One of the ways we make Jesus holy is when we make him the Lord of our hearts.

This is the second point. It's not by mighty works of charity or piety that we bless God, but by what we "" in our hearts. What we are called to "do" is to make Jesus the complete master of our hearts. This isn't as easy as it seems. I would argue, in fact, that it's easier to say a rosary, go to a soup kitchen, or attend Mass than to say with all sincerity that Christ, and nothing else, rules our hearts. Think of all the other things that occupy a space in our hearts: family, career, hobbies, and pleasures. Does Christ come first and is he above all these other things? That is, are all of these things regulated and determined by God? Christ might be in our hearts, but he is the Lord? Yes, that is difficult.

Happy Mothers' Day!

Dear Parishioners,

Happy Mother's Day! To all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and any women who embody motherly attributes, thank you for who you are and all you do for us. You make the world a joyful, loving place.

To all the female parishioners at St. Juliana (as well as from my previous parish—Mary, Seat of Wisdom) who are like mothers to me because of the hugs, smiles, affirmation, meals you drop off, and so much more, thank you. I love you. To all the females on my staff who are like mothers to me, thank you. I'm sure you want to strangle me at times, like a son, but I love you. To my two sisters and sister-in-law who are like mothers to me, thank you. I love you. To my grandmother, thank you. I love you. And, of course, to my own mother: thank you. I wouldn't be the man and priest I am without your love and influence in my life. I love you.

Fishers of Men

Dear Parishioners,

Today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It's a day, above all, to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago. We need more priests, and not just warm bodies, but good, holy men willing to serve and bring Jesus Christ to the world.

Saint Peter was a priest, and a good one at that. In our first reading from Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2: 14, 36-41), Peter boldly proclaims Jesus Christ and baptizes 3,000 people in one day! Peter was effective. Obviously it was because his message was clear and attractive, and the subject of his message, Jesus Christ, even more attractive. The last line of our Gospel, a statement from Jesus, sums up Christ's attractiveness: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 1:10). But there was something else that made Peter effective, and it was more than his words.

Chapter Three

My apologies for an administrative installment, but I want to let you know where we as a parish stand with regard to our finances and fundraising. Part of the Experience Jesus restructuring is meant to facilitate your involvement. It is also meant to make us as economical as possible. I take very seriously the call to be a good steward of your resources.

Chapter Two

At the end of June two members of our staff, Pam Francisco and Joyce Browne, will be retiring. Pam and Joyce have served our parish with such dedication for so many years. Pam arrived here in 1974 and has served both as Director of Religious Education and as Pastoral Associate, helping with the liturgies and working with a variety of groups. She originally taught at our Catholic school and quickly endeared herself to the community.

Chapter One

On Easter Sunday I unveiled a vision for our parish: Experience Jesus. People are attracted to good experiences in life: a Cubs game, a movie, a concert. Well, Jesus is the best experience there is, better than any movie or game. Putting Jesus front and center is how we will be strong as a parish. St. Juliana is being restructured so that we can best Experience Jesus. If you missed the announcement about Experience Jesus, and how Sunday, School, and Service are our three means to experiencing Jesus, please click here to read about it.

Curds and Whey

Our Lady of the Whey. This is a title I have created for Mary, not to be confused with Our Lady of the Way, or Santa Maria della Strada. Mary brings us directly to her son, thus the Madonna della Strada is the fastest way to heaven. That feast day is celebrated on May 24th. Mine does not have a feast day (yet) and it deals with the process of making cheese.

Onward and upward, stat!

A Chicago Tribune article earlier this year (January 12, 2017) reported on the elevator boom in China. The country is rapidly urbanizing and, with it, immense skyscrapers are being constructed. Businesses not only want elevators, they want fast elevators to arrive at their destination as quickly as possible. The elevator at Shanghai Tower, in fact, is the fastest in the world, traveling at a speed of 45 mph. If only the Chinese knew that the fastest way to the heavens is not an amusement-park-like elevator, but Jesus Christ!

La Belle Dame

This 10-inch statue of Mary and the child Jesus was found by workers underneath the floor of a cloister in Boulaur, France. It dates back to the 13th Century. Despite the statue's mutilation and missing limbs, she is called the "Belle Dame", or Beautiful Lady. I'm grateful to a priest friend of mine who took this picture.

There are several takeaways from this simple, yet elegant piece. Notice the smile of Mary. If you want to know what joy is, look at Mary's smile. She displays deep peace and contentment. When we are in possession of Jesus, we might not be jumping with elation, but we do have joy.

Laugh and God Laughs With You

“But you, O Lord, laugh at them” (Ps 59:7-8).

To have a sense of humor means to be able to "see through things," as Fulton Sheen once put it. Think about it. Jerry Seinfeld points to the mundane experiences of life, like grocery shopping, and we laugh because we realize there is something behind the mere obtaining of food. Comedians see through ordinary events.