Sunday morning, Vinnie sits between his mom and dad at Sunday morning mass in the third pew from the front. The choir is warming up, Vinnie’s mom is on her knees, hands folded, eyes fixed on the Virgin Mary. Vinnie’s dad is looking at his iPhone checking late night scores. Vinnie turns around and waves. He turns toward his dad and says, “Excuse me, Dad. I’ll be right back.”
Vinnie’s dad mumbles okay, continuing to scroll through the scores. Vinnie squeezes between his dad’s knees and the the pew in front of them. Vinnie’s mom blesses herself and sits back on the pew. She glances to her right, alarm bells go off. She touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm, “Where’s Vinnie?”
“Uh, he’ll be right back,” says Vinnie’s dad quickly turning off his iPhone and putting it in his pocket. He adds, “It really annoys me when people don’t turn their iPhones off and they get a call or a text during mass.”
Vinnie’s mom says, “You were checking late night scores, right, Al?”
“I admit it, but I was saying Hail Mary’s as I was checking them.”
Vinnie’s mom turns toward the back of church looking for any sign of Vinnie. She sees the line getting ready for the procession to the alter. An altar girl is carrying a tall pole with a crucifix on top. Two altar boys are right behind her and flanking her. Two lay people who’ll read from the bible are next in line. A deacon is in line behind the readers. Father Pete is further back. He’s listening to Vinnie. Vinnie catches his mom’s eye and waves. Father Pete waves at her. Vinnie’s mom thinks it has to be okay, what could go wrong. She turns around and touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm and points toward the rear of the church. Vinnie’s dad sees the same scene.
Vinnie’s dad says, “We must be doing something right, Marti.”
Vinnie’s mom smiles and squeezes Vinnie’s dad’s hand. She says a quick prayer of gratefulness, that Vinnie isn’t causing trouble.
The choir stands up. The lead guitar player moves to the microphone, “Please rise. Our opening hymn can be found on page 362, How Great Thou Art.”
The choir starts singing, the procession moves toward the front of the church. Vinnie’s mom turns around looking for Vinnie. She can’t see anything because everyone is standing up. She listens for Vinnie’s voice. She thinks she can hear it. It sounds like it’s coming from the rear of the section to her left. The procession blocks her view.
Father Pete nods and smiles at Vinnie’s mom as he passes by. Everyone in the procession assumes their places around the altar. Father Pete begins mass, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Vinnie’s mom hears an unmistakable loud, “Amen.”
Everyone still standing, she’s not paying attention to Father Pete. She hears prayers she’s heard for years being recited by everyone in the church but her. The opening prayers finished, everyone in the congregation sits down to hear the biblical readings. Vinnie’s mom remains standing scanning the church for Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad tugs on Vinnie’s mom’s arm, “Marti, sit down. You’re the only one standing.”
Vinnie’s mom sits and slides close to Vinnie’s dad. “I hear him, but I can’t see him.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Relax. We saw him talking to Father Pete. I’m sure it’s all okay. Think of all the positive things that are coming out of this. We get to sit next to each other. We don’t have to tell Vinnie to put his food back in his pocket. We don’t have to tell him to not make up words to the hymns. And, we don’t hear anyone running around screaming.”
Vinnie’s mom whispers to Vinnie’s dad, “Thanks, Al. I let my imagination get carried away with me.”
A moment later, Vinnie’s mom says, “Al, is that your iPhone vibrating? Why is it vibrating? I thought you turned it off.”
Vinnie’s dad shrugs. He reaches into his pocket, pulls out the iPhone and glances at it. “It’s a text from Mike,” he whispers. “I’ll check it out in case he needs to be bailed out of jail.”
“Can’t it wait?” says Vinnie’s mom wondering what the first reader is reading.
“It will only take a second,” says Vinnie’s dad. He opens his iPhone. The old woman to his right glares at him. For a second, Vinnie’s dad is thinking the old gal is going to swing her rosary at him.
Vinnie’s dad reads the text. He closes his iPhone, slips it back into his pocket and smiles at Vinnie’s mom.
“Well?” whispers Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad bends toward Vinnie’s mom and says, “Vinnie is in good hands. He’s sitting with Mike and my dad and mom in the back row. You know how Dad always likes to leave right after he receives communion. Mike said they’ll meet us at Albertini’s for brunch, Mike’s treat.”
“Mary, are you hearing any of this?” mutters Vinnie’s mom.