Holy Mother Of Mine

As I recall the event, it happened when I was around 11 years old, and had been an altar boy at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church for almost 5 years. Because of my experience with serving mass, I typically got the primo assignments; The High Palm Sunday Mass at 11:30am  qualified as one of the bigger ones. This mass was epic. It lasted for a day and a half. Ok, it was more like two hours, but it felt much longer. All of the parishioners, dressed to the nines, came to get their palms prior to having their Palm Sunday dinner.

The problem with this mass is that there is a lot of standing. Typically, in a mass, you stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel ~ well, you get the picture. I think when the priests developed the format for a mass, they wanted to make sure there was a lot of movement so that no one would fall asleep. Unfortunately, the same thought wasn’t put into the marathon Palm Sunday Mass.

This particular Sunday, my mother and sister were part of the congregation, along with a couple of other relatives. I remember this day well. The church was warmer than usual for a spring day; not so hot that you were sweating, just a comfortable warmth.  It was about forty-five minutes into the mass and we were going through all the steps – candles, incense, readings – all leading up to the longest gospel of the year. John Zirpolo, a younger kid in the neighborhood, was serving mass alongside me that day.  (We have since discussed what occurred that day a couple of times as adults over dinner.)

Father Norbert (who I believe was the priest who said mass that day) took the podium and began the gospel. I started to zone out to his monotone words, and the scent of the incense, coupled with the warmth of the church, formed a trinity of comfort, and a symphony of flickering eyelids soon began. Father Norbert was about two-thirds of the way through the gospel when a deafening SLAM echoed through the church. The sound reverberated throughout the pews. One of the altar boys hit the floor like a ton of bricks. SLAM.

Ok, so I have a flair for the dramatic and my timing is unrivalled. But this was no prank or played-out stunt. The length of the gospel combined with the heat and boredom lulled me to sleep while I was standing, and I toppled over, slamming onto the floor of the altar. No Joke. Out cold. I was in a bit of a daze and the mass was put on hold while I was taken into the sacristy. I didn’t see it or hear it, but my landing flat on my back in the middle of Palm Sunday Mass wasn’t as dramatic as what happened while I was out cold on the floor.

Apparently, at the sight of her son dropping on the altar, my mother ran full speed up the center aisle of the church screaming, “JESUS CHRIST, OH JESUS, MY SON ~ OH JESUS, MARY & JOSEPH.” Quite the sight anywhere ~ never mind in a church. I guess it was quite hysterical, although you can understand the only thought running through my mother’s mind was that I could be dead. I wish there were smart phones back then, because I would have loved to have seen that video. That had to be some funny stuff, and I missed it. I know it wasn’t funny to my mom, and no one in the church actually laughed, but come on, classic comedy material.

I have no lesson here. No nugget of wisdom to share. Just sometimes the funniest things happen in the oddest places. For those of you who celebrate it ~ Happy Palm Sunday, and by the way, don’t fall asleep at mass (unless it’s on video).


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  1. Grace Ann Novello says:

    Still laughing. Even though I lived it, the way you tell the story is hilarious. (but at the time I didn’t over react, even though I could have been less vocal. ) Have a great one. Guess who!

    1. Lou Imbriano says:


      I love that you commented on this story. It just show’s how genuine and real you are as a person. I love that about you and it it’s absolutely why I am as genuine as you can get. Thank you.

      I love you,

      1. Grace Ann Novello says:

        Love you too!

  2. This is hilarious Lou! OMG! I think it’s amazing how you still recall every detail, up until you went out for the count. I can remember (too) many episodes of falling asleep in church~ as a kid and not as a kid. Always embarrassing when you wake up and hope nobody noticed. And since they didn’t, might as well close my eyes again…Hahaha Thanks for the laugh!

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Linda,

      We have laughed over this story for over 30 years so the memory has lived on. My mother always says (an I should have included this in the post) I may have ran up frantically, but leave it to you to cause such a scene. And she’s correct, I would love to say this is one isolated example ~ but there are more.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      My best,

  3. I haven’t heard the phrase, ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ since my grandmother passed. We said her funeral Mass in Latin. The woman was hardcore, God rest her soul. Thanks for the giggle and thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    BTW, as an aside, I’ve been a shoe hound since I was able to walk upright. When I was a kid, I’d sit on the far aisle seat so that I could watch women’s shoes file past on their way back from Communion. 🙂

    Happy Easter!

    1. Lou Imbriano says:


      You would love my mother, for many reasons, but one that clearly fits ~ she owns more shoes than Imelda Marcos.

      Happy Easter,

  4. SO FUNNY! I laughed right out loud in Starbucks and had to explain the story to my husband. Lou, I fainted in Mass exactly once, I was maybe 16 or so and yes of course it was a Palm Sunday. Longest. Mass. EVAR. Just like you said, you’re standing for days, incense, all that jazz. But I was just in a pew not in front of the world (because girls couldn’t be altar boys then no matter how much I wanted to), and I went sideways. My mom thought I was dramatically leaning on her (as in, “I’m so BORED”, and who can blame her that would be a very 16-year-old thing to do) until I just went down BAM! Woke to ushers and people fanning me, all laid out on the pew and a nice shiner coming up due to hitting the hymnal rack on my way down. I was completely mortified, as I was by pretty much everything at that age. Thanks so much for sharing. Tee hee

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Tink,

      Thank you so much for your story, it made me giggle. It’s also nice to know it’s not just me 🙂

      My best,

  5. Carol Alosa says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, it is a great memory and would love to hear your Mom’s version. Reminds me of Mark and he was around 8. We were all seated at Mass on Easter morning and we had told the 4 Rugrats that they had to wait to eat any candy until after Mass. The service started and Joe noticed that Mark had not removed his hat. He told him to do so and after the third order he reached over and whipped it off his head and then we knew why he was ignoring his Dad, A shower of Jelley Beans hit the pew and the floor just when all was quiet! Mark left us with more memories than the other three combined, —– and I guess we one know why.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Carol,

      I appreciate you sharing that story. It captures Mark’s spirit perfectly. He was a great guy and I think of him often. I hope you and Joe are well and we get to see you soon.

      My best,

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