O happy fault: living with a deacon at Easter time

It can’t be easy living with a deacon, especially now.

Every year, for a few weeks before Easter, the deacon pulls out sheet music and starts practicing that Everest of liturgical song, the Exsultet:  a nine-minute a capella chant sung in near-darkness at the start of the Easter Vigil.

Around our home, the Exsultet is the Muzak of our lives.  It’s everywhere. I warble snatches of it constantly.  My wife, saint that she is, has become politely oblivious.  How she does it, I will never know.

6 AM and the clock radio goes off.  My wife nudges me awake.  “Be glad,” I burble, “let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King.”

Later, I find myself in our apartment building’s elevator with a few bleary-eyed neighbors heading to work.  “Dearest friends,” I sing, “standing with me in the awesome glory of this holy light, invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God almighty… ”

I’m sure it’s no accident that a few get off before we even reach the lobby.

Crowded in the subway, I am surrounded by a large contingent of non-Catholics – many Jews, in fact, marking their own holy feast.  How can I resist?  “These then are the feasts of Passover,” I exuberantly sing to them, “in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb, whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.”  They think I’m crazy.  It’s the New York subway. I fit right in.

At work, the copy editor passes me an edited article which reads better than I expected.  “Let this holy building shake with joy!” I exclaim.  He nods, rolls his eyes, and passes the copy on to the graphic artist.  He’s used to this.

Back home, my wife asks me how I liked her dinner.  “Dazzling is the night for me,” I assure her, “and full of gladness.”  She notes that it wasn’t anything special, just something she popped into the microwave – and a little overcooked, at that.  “Oh happy fault,” I beam.  I notice her fingering the dinner knife.  I shut up.

Easter is coming.  My wife (and my neighbors) are counting the days.  Exult, let them exult!


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