World Meeting of Families: The Christ Child in My Home


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I rode the train yesterday with tears sliding down my face. Yes, we were going to the World Meeting of Families for our second day. The car ride to the station was nothing but the children bickering, complaining, and contradicting each other and us, their parents. I knew yelling wasn’t going to help. After all, if it were going to help, it would’ve helped by now. My husband suggested some other consequences.

“No,” I heard myself answer in a quiet voice. “They need to want to love each other, and they don’t.”

That stopped the bickering, but it didn’t stop my heart from breaking. I thought back to the day before. All the other pilgrim families we’d seen seemed so together, so loving, so joyful, so holy.

And then there was our family. Going to this one holy Catholic conference.

I felt like a total fraud.

I put on my brave face and got off the train with my broody brood, but as the morning Mass went on, the worse I felt.

I pour and pour love into these children, I thought, I fight and fight against vice in my parenting, I struggle to give them a good and loving example, and what do I get back? Bickering, complaining, conflict. I have nothing left to give them, Lord. THEY have to WANT to want to love each other, because clearly my parenting ain’t doing squat.  

I had a very hard time focusing on God’s word and perhaps a harder time singing, you know, with the crying and all. The offertory hymn at the Mass was “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom,” the official hymn for the World Meeting of Families. Living in the archdiocese hosting the meeting, I’ve already heard the song several times through and only more so since the meeting began. However, today was the first day I really heard the line in the fourth stanza:

Jesus, youth in low’ly Naz’reth, faithful son, and loving child

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (], i

Image via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0.

Of course, being the cynic that I am, I immediately thought, “No wonder Mary stayed sinless even after becoming a mother. Her Son was never an obstinate brat!”

It was then that I received a mental image of the Child Jesus running around my own home, laughing, smiling, meek and cheerful.

I’ve certainly invited the Blessed Mother into our home before. I’ve never invited her to bring the Christ Child with her.  

I spent the rest of Mass and really the rest of today asking the Christ Child to come into our home, to be the example that my children need of how to be a Child of God…and, let’s face it, to be the example that I need, perhaps much more than the children do.

May Mary and her Son, the Child Jesus, be present in all our homes and make us one and all holy.

Do you ever feel like a “parenting fraud”? How have you invited Jesus and Mary to be examples of holiness to you and your children?


Copyright 2015 Erin McCole-Cupp.


About Author

Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. She's working with Our Sunday Visitor on a book about parenting spirituality for survivors of family abuse and dysfunction. Find out more about her novels and other projects at


  1. A fraud? Um, every day. I think there’s some kind of flawed equation whereby people THINK for every child you have the more patience, parental skills, and virtue you embody. Yes, we receive grace, but oh my gosh, we rarely enjoy the peace of Christ here. I was in near-tears yesterday over a child’s incessant whiny, outrageous, nonstop demands. And sadly, I’m certain I don’t invite Mary or Jesus in as much as I should other than, “Lord, help me!”

  2. Erin, Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids! As the father of eight kids on Earth and married to a woman who my adult children refer to at times as Mother Theresa, I can attest that kids, brothers and sisters, will fight, pester, complain, whine, etc. to a point where even Mother Theresa would be tempted to pull out the yard stick. My kids now range from 18 to 30. The bickering has mostly stopped due to busy and different schedules. When we are all together however, it is not unusual for them to start on each other. That being said, they are immediately there for each other when one is in need. Lend money, give a ride, babysit, help lift-carry something big and heavy, help with a repair job and more. They do love each other AND they still fight with each other. I am nearly 60 and I do not recall any family I have ever known where the siblings did not get after each other. I believe it is part of being human. As long as too much blood is not shed I would not get down on yourself. Hang in there it gets better. And remember Jesus freaked out Mary and Joseph when He was 12 and separated Himself on purpose from them.

  3. Oh Erin. I could have written this a thousand times. I’ve been a mom for 25 years now, the oldest being 25 and the youngest being 13, four of them. I sometimes hear one of mine say something so harsh about someone else or fight with each other, or defy us over simple things and I think….what has all my sacrifice been about?!? My eldest two are not where they should be spiritually and I think…. My most important job–to give the kids a grounding in their faith—and I’ve failed. FAILED. I’ve made mistakes, I have made effort. But I remember St. Monica. I pray and I pray…and I pray some more. When all four kids were home and the family would squabble at the dinner table, I used to pray a Hail Mary, right through the argument, out loud. LOL! So like St. Monica I pray and remain in prayer for my children and family. The Blessed Mother had it easy with Jesus as a little one, but her sorrow was so extreme…and her joy so infinitely deep. I pray the Rosary, the Divine Mercy. I plead for my children who don’t seem to know enough to plead for themselves. And I get up every day, pick up the cross I’m given and try as best as I can to follow Jesus. Sometimes I do fail miserably. And other days I do all right. But I just trust God all the way.

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