Father James Wallace

Just One Cookie

I once received the following image in contemplative prayer. I am a child in search of cookies on the kitchen counter. I am not tall enough to see over the counter, let alone to reach up and grab them, but I know they are there. In my effort to obtain the treats there is a hope that I will have them, so much so that makes it as if I am, in reality, possessing the cookies.

The cookies, in my prayer, stood for holiness and, ultimately, for total unity with Jesus. I don't possess perfect holiness. I am striving for it, and in my striving and my total occupation with holiness, it is as if I possess it. That is why I, or the child in my image, do not get upset and either give up or break down.

Missing Pieces

Ah Love, could'st thou and I with fate conspire
To smash this sorry scheme of things entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits—and then
Remold it nearer the heart's desire?

Those are the lines of Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist from the early middle ages. His beautiful poetry makes me think of a part of the Mass known as the "Fraction Rite." This is when the priest, during the Lamb of God, breaks the large host into three pieces. One of these pieces is small and he drops it into the chalice, saying quietly, “May the mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to all who receive it.”

Vice or Virtue

Because you have a particular negative trait or habit doesn't mean you have to be defined that way. There's always an opposite virtue to your vice. Look at Moses. This supreme prophet was regarded as perhaps the meekest man who ever walked the earth (cf. Num 12:3). He was calm in the face of Pharaoh's obstinacy, patient with the complaining Israelites in the desert, and obedient to the Lord's decision to not let him enter the Promised Land. But Moses wasn't always this way. He had an extreme temper. He killed an Egyptian in his youth and literally smashed the two tables upon which the Ten Commandments were written. Moses recognized his temper and countered it with meekness, so much so that he became known as a meek, and not a hot-headed, man.

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MacArthur the Anti-Christ

“We heard God speak here today!” shouted Senator Dewey Short above the din on the floor of Congress. “God in the flesh! The voice of God!”

There was pandemonium in the room, as people jumped over one another to touch the man. Others were literally prostrating themselves before him. It was April 17, 1951, and General Douglas MacArthur had just given his farewell address to a joint session of Congress. Afterwards, Herbert Hoover said he was a “reincarnation of St. Paul,” while a woman from New Jersey was a little more praiseworthy, claiming, “he has the attributes of God: he is kind and merciful and firm and just.”

The Noonday Devil

Acedia is probably the most underrated of the seven deadly sins. We think of it is sloth or laziness, but acedia is more complicated than that. Fundamentally, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, acedia is a sadness over a spiritual good. Something that should bring us joy and excitement does not. For example, being around one's children should bring happiness. A man suffering acedia will avoid his family because they make him sad. Or, going to church and praying should be an uplifting experience. The afflicted person will feel sad around God and not attend Mass. He will, instead, sleep in. This is where the notion of laziness enters, but again, laziness is the aftereffect. We do not fulfill the obligations that will satisfy us because of that antecedent sadness. Acedia, therefore, is referred to as the "Noonday Devil." At noon when the sun is at its peak and we should be enjoying the day and active, we are, instead, sad and paralyzed.

Chinese Catholic Church

On July 2, 1951 Fr. Tong Che-Tche disappeared. One month earlier, he had said this before the civil authorities: “I am a Chinese Catholic. I love my country; I also love my Church. I dissociate myself from everything that is opposed to the laws of my country, just as I dissociate myself from everything that is opposed to the laws of my Church, and above all things I dissociate myself from everything that can sow discord.”

Chapter Four

Allow me to provide a brief "buildings and grounds" update. The main message to take away from this fourth installment is that nothing has changed or been definitely decided. A small group of parishioners and myself—an "exploratory building committee" of sorts—is looking into the back of the church and the ministry center projects. We have contacted a number of architects who will provide us with an idea of what we can do to improve our buildings.

The purpose of renovating the ministry center is to improve this underutilized building. The ministry center could be a very attractive feature of our parish. We could have more (and nicer) meeting rooms with multi-media capacities for groups, as well as better office space to help our staff carry out its functions. The chapel will remain untouched. We would consider selling the rectory to help fund this project.

Just to be clear, the rectory is not on the market, and the back of the church and ministry center are not under any sort of construction. The exploratory committee is still in the very early stage of gathering information. I will keep you informed and consult you as we progress.

This is an exciting time for our parish. Improved physical structures can help us to better experience Jesus and bring more to people to St. Juliana so they can do likewise.

Is Knowledge Power?

Dear Parishioners,

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones”" (Matt 11:25).

We are arguably the most well-read and knowledgeable people in the history of mankind. Think of how many books exist, how much information there is on health, science, history, the environment, and so on. We watch documentaries and ‘how to’ YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, and read magazines. I don't know about you, but I am constantly reading, constantly researching. Is it out of curiosity that we want to know? Or is it out of desperation, as we subscribe subconsciously to the maxim, "knowledge is power"? Or some other reason we seek wisdom?

In the Weeds

Dear Parishioners,

Our Lord's parables can be applied not just to the Kingdom of God at large, but to us individually. When we hear about the wheat and the weeds in the Gospel this Sunday (cf. Matt 13:24-30) there is a very personal message.

In the parable, the master tells the slave not to pull up the weeds. “Let them grow together until harvest,” he instructs. Sure, the parable informs us about the nature of the Church. The Church has “weeds”—flaws, sinners, and so forth. No field is perfect, and we should not grow too frustrated when confronted with this imperfection. The Church, though holy, will never be perfect.

Parables and Divine Mysteries

Dear Parishioners,

“A sower went out to sow...” Our Lord tells us, in arguably his most well-known parable, there are four different types of landing spots for a seed: a path, rocky soil, a thorn bush, and rich soil. The seed, of course, stands for the Word of God and the landing spot is the person. Some of us are rocky soil, where Christ's message and his grace does not take root, while others of us are rich soil, where it does.