If you might join me in saying a prayer for the Surgeon General, God bless him, I think he needs it because no one has yet told him that this is (aside from next week - Easter week) the happiest week of the year. He deludedly announced recently that "This week will be the saddest and hardest that Americans have ever experienced."
What an Eeyore! I mean we love Eeyore, but this man needs (like Eeyore did) some good friends to give him a useful pot to put things in, and a broken balloon to put in it! Didn't he get the memo? Doesn't he know that besides Jesus being about to save the world again, it is my birthday week? And so, you might say without doubt, I beg to differ! Happiness for the whole world!
Because, indeed, today is the Big Day! And that means presents for everyone! HOORAY! Let the festivities begin!
I think in honor of the Trinity, I'd better offer 3 gifts today - I mean at least, eh? (Note my Canadian accent? In happy conjunction with some news related to one of the 3 gifts, so let me get to them quickly!)
First off, there is a repeat link of the talk I gave at my Padre Pio birthday party this past Saturday, hosted by the wonderful Paul and Mildred Chen and by the equally amazing Padre Pio Prayer Group of Nashville. HERE is the link (just click on HERE and you'll be THERE).
Second, Bishop Barron, our bishop in the Santa Barbara region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is giving the whole world a birthday present for me today, namely a free screening of his new movie on soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen! Hooray again, and thank you to a Canadian connection who sent me this exciting birthday event! We will be watching Fulton Sheen, the Communicator where I am with my in-laws in Florida (or so I hope) while we dine on chocolate cake tonight (ah, thank you Costco for delivering! though I must say "insh'allah" or If God likes, since we haven't ordered it yet!)....and please join us! No RSVP necessary, though you'll have to get your own cake on account of these dratted 6 feet social distancing rules, but do pull down your mask long enough to beam me a birthday smile and shovel, I mean gently fork, some cake in, in celebration of this festive day!
Third, since I just noticed that the movie is only an hour long, and the image of shoveling and/or gently forking chocolate cake into an open mouth is fresh in my mind, it occurs to me that you'll have time to read aloud a bit of The Paradise Project this evening as well! I don't believe I remembered to put a birthday into the novel for Elizabeth, our heroine (though perhaps I did - I need to re-read it too, especially if I'm going to be writing a sequel, which has recently and finally become a desire of my heart, as well as a desire of the hearts of many of Elizabeth's readers and friends).
I just had the most amazing news yesterday regarding The Paradise Project - tantamount to receiving the National Book Award! No, it wasn't the Nobel Prize for Literature, nor even a Pulitzer, but the beautiful and charming news from a dear friend that she and her daughter had recently read The Novel - and it had brought them joy in plague time!
No, they didn't read it together exactly. My friend is famous (with me at least) for having stayed up all night once in college when she was supposed to be cramming for exams. No, she wasn't cramming for exams, she was reading Clan of the Cave Bear! And no, don't try this at home (I mean reading Clan - not when you could be reading Paradise!)
Well, guess what? Yes, you guessed it! MC stayed up all night recently reading her free ebook version of The Paradise Project, and she said she really enjoyed it (gosh, can you imagine what this would do to our friendship if she had stayed up all night reading and disliked the book? Phew! SPOILER - glad it has a happy ending!!!).
So waste no more time, take a little pause in your reading of this happy birthday to me blog post, and go up top where you can just click on Paradise Mobi (for kindle or kindle app), Paradise Epub (for Barnes and Noble Nook) or Paradise PDF (for reading directly on your phone or tablet or computer)....or.....go HERE to download from amazon.com (for free) and if you don't have a kindle or the app yet, you can take up their offer to download the kindle app. But shhhhhhhhh, don't tell Gretchen, since she is most certainly not a fan of amazon! (and if you don't yet know Gretchen, start reading the novel soon, before you get distracted by the other gifts below! You need to know Gretchen - she is well worth knowing!!)
You can also, if you have a Kindle or Nook, go into the "Store" on your e-reader and search my name, Suzie Andres - then you'll get all 3 of our currently offered free ebooks right at your fingertips. The super fun thing is that I just noticed (when fetching the link HERE to the amazon Paradise page) that we are ranked (Elizabeth, Gretchen, and I) #72 in Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks! What a hilarious ranking! Not only 72, but our category!
If you want to give me a funny birthday gift too, please "buy" the free copy of Paradise at the link and let's shoot Paradise to #1 and make it an amazon bestseller along with Stations of the Cross with Our Sister St. Therese and Something New with St. Therese. Ah, look, more magic links and more books! Yes, get those today too, for fun and for free, and let's see where their rankings end up.
Do you want to hear a really adorably ludicrous fun fact? These two new Little Way books keep bumping each other out of the #1 spot on amazon bestsellers (the other one then goes to number two, like Dominic Badguy in Muppets Most Wanted - another important must-watch for my birthday!). No, I don't mean these two books are THE top bestsellers on amazon, but rather thanks to the wondiferous hourly ranking system, they are One and Two in the rather niche category: Christian Saints and Sainthood, Free Kindle Books. Their race is delightful, because while they are staying ahead of the competition, though just barely, for some reason the top 100 free kindle ebooks in this category actually fall short of 100 at the moment.....there are only 3! Which gives special meaning to our having captured spots 1 and 2! I love this! Talk about the Little Way of amazon bestsellers!
Which somehow reminds me of another gift you can give to me for my birthday - it requires no stamps, no post offices (where one sister of mine had to stand in line for an hour today, God bless and reward her!), and no finding just the right present I'll love - because what I'd love is free and a homemade gift (the best kind! especially if it contains chocolate chips, but no, I digress again) - to put it plainly, I would LOVE if you would, having enjoyed one of my books, leave me a review on amazon! Or rather, please leave a review for potential readers so that they may be lured and enticed into spending time with St. Therese and Jesus, or Jesus and St. Therese, or even simply Miss Elizabeth Benning of The Paradise Project. And yes, all these bold words are clickable links to their corresponding books too!
Before you click your way off the edge of the internet, though, I must announce that we have yet more good news and presents for you (there, at least that bold word is not a link)!
I may have surpassed 3 for the Trinity, so how about we go for 7 for the Sacraments - those precious gifts we are just beginning to appreciate since I've found it true, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Thank You, Jesus, for Your tender solicitude which leads us into Holy Week united to You in such a mysterious new little way. And thank You too, for continually inspiring us to find new ways to find YOU and new ways to keep ourselves entertained in Pandemic-Hunkering-Lock-Down-time . . . like . . . learning Vietnamese!
Admit it. You don't know Vietnamese yet, do you? Or better yet, perhaps you know Vietnamese, but you haven't been finding new books on St.Therese in your favorite foreign (or for you, maybe first) language. WE CAN HELP! You will never believe what birthday gift I was given in the Triduum preceding Our Big Day, but don't even try to guess, because I'm overjoyed to share it with you, if only I can figure out how.
Let's see, how about we start with the cover, and then you can Contact Me for the pdf file that is the Real Gift. But here and now - just to whet your appetite and delight your sense of sight and your imagination which simply must reel at the goodness of God when you see what comes next - let's share the really beautiful cover. Ready? Set? . . . Go!
Okay, sorry. That's a bit of a letdown on my side too . . . I can't get even the sweet cover image here, but let me copy and paste the title on the cover - for yes, this is another new and free book I want to give you, but not just any book - this one is a priceless gem of a book! For it is . . .
STATIONS OF THE CROSS With Our Sister Saint Thérèse SUY NIEÄM ÑAØNG THAÙNH GIAÙ Vôùi Thaùnh Teâreâxa Haøi Ñoàng Gieâsu
Yes! You read that right! It is our new Stations book in a bilingual edition!
A wonderful Vietnamese Dominican Sister wrote to me recently - she clicked the Contact Me book and changed the world forever - and I can't help hoping you'll click that button too, to wish me many happy returns of the day and so that I can meet you and greet you on this auspicious annual occasion! Also, if you would like to know when a new post appears here, you now have the amazing option of clicking "subscribe" and signing up for my email alerts of new posts. Don't worry that I'll use your email for other purposes - I don't even know how to see your email when you sign up! So those 36 of you who are signed up: Hello! nanoo nanoo! And those several of you who signed, up, got cold feet (or annoyed) and unsubscribed: Thank you! I was always worried that if we ever got a subscribe button imported (thank you, marvelous Mimi!), people would be stuck receiving my email alerts forever against their wills - and you have happily for all of us proven it is (I hope) just as easy to unsubscribe as to subscribe. I love quitting things myself, so good job!
But getting back to the gift of Sister Martina - both the gift of her and the gift from her - she wrote and asked permission to translate some of my writings into Vietnamese.
Could she have permission?!?!?!?!?! Wowie zowie! It's every author's dream to be translated into another language. And Vietnamese? Perhaps not what every American author dreams of first, but I'm not just any American author - I'm a Vietnamese wannabe, a happy fan of my brother Marcel and delighted to share my love for him and Therese (and thus, first and finally, Jesus!) with the whole wide world, but especially with my dear brother's (and thus mine) Vietnamese siblings. WOW!
So yes, actually, I said YES!
And then Sister Martina did this amazing thing. She just up and translated the essence of our new Stations book into Vietnamese (namely the quotes from St. Therese to help us stay with Jesus a moment in each of his 14 stops on the Way of the Cross) and shared them with her community. Did you notice that her community is in bold and kind of shimmery? Yep, you got it, that means you can click on Sister Martina's community and visit them! As she said to me, their site is not exactly in English, but you can enjoy your Sisters in Christ without even knowing their language. Gosh, just look at Therese and Marcel!
Okay, Marcel said Therese spoke perfect Vietnamese, but he is also clear that he did NOT speak perfect French, so we're in good company if we share a smile with our newfound Sisters in the Mystical Body even without being able to share a lot of words. Although truly, don't you think bilingual Stations with Our Sister St. Therese may be just what you've been waiting for (much cheaper than Rosetta Stone, and less secular than Duolingo, God bless them all) in order to learn Vietnamese in 4 days?! (Because as much as I'm working on my hard sell and ad campaign re. "Stations of the Cross: A devotion for every liturgical season," I haven't even quite convinced myself yet!
We'll do our best to get those special Stations posted somewhere on this website by the stroke of midnight ending April 7 for another year (sigh....yet there is always the octave!), but meanwhile, if you would like me to send you them via email, again, just Contact Me using the clickable button. For just as I told Sister Martina, "Of course! All I have written is yours: please share freely!" so she too wrote to me regarding her translation, "Of course! All I have written is yours: please share freely!" This is so Theresian, for she - our little sister in Heaven - used to say along with St. Thomas (and many before him whom he was quoting) that all truth, by whomever spoken, is from the Holy Spirit!
Come, Holy Spirit, and through our sharing and translating and being little secretaries for Jesus Our Love, renew the face of the earth!
To my great joy, the Holy Spirit reminded me to send these Stations, shortly after I received them yesterday, to one reader here who contacted me a few months ago - and delighted me with the news that she was Vietnamese and would like to have Marcel's writings in Vietnamese for her family and friends. Now I have at least been able to send her, thanks to Sister Martina, some words of Therese in Vietnamese, and our reader has already written back that she's shared these newly translated Stations with her relatives! God is so good! Thank you, little Marcel!
And now, let me post so you can begin to enjoy your party favors. Welcome to the happiest day of the year (okay, one of them!) and thank you for joining the celebration! Remember, we are turning this pandemic of fear into a pandemic of love, one smile-behind-a-mask at a time :) !!! And if you, like me, miss actual hugs, offer this sacrifice to Jesus (a little inconvenience to stop the stones thrown by sinners from reaching Our Spouse), and be sure to blow kisses and send virutal (((hugs)))!!!
Will you say a birthday prayer of petition and gratitude and absolute confidence and joy with me?
Draw me, darling Jesus; we will RUN!!!!!
p.s. I almost forgot to mention why the Canadian accent. Marcel's sister Anne-Marie Te lives to this day in a Redemptorist convent in Canada, where she is a religious sister and Spouse of Christ. Thanks to Miss Marcel's Musings and that miracle-working Contact Me button, I know a wonderful priest who knows a wonderful priest who took him to visit with the original Miss Marcel - Marcel's blood sister and sister-in-Christ, Anne-Marie Te! Well, thanks again to the Holy Spirit, we are hoping and praying that the Canadian wonderful priest, who lives near the Redemptorist Sisters, will find a way - plague time notwithstanding - to give a copy of the new Vietnamese/English Stations to Te and her sisters for this Holy Week. Wouldn't that be the best gift yet? St. Anthony, St. Raphael, little Therese and Marcel who so captivate our hearts and make the whole world one under the loving gaze of our Heavenly Father: please help our Stations reach Te, and bring immense spiritual joy and consolation to her dear loving heart!
P.P.S. I'm such a Miss Marcel! A real maroon (or is it a meringue?) as my fowl hero Daffy Duck would say! What did I forget this time? I almost forgot to tell you about the gift of gifts I'm offering to share the birthday joy!
There is an exquisitely lovely children's book just out, written by my dear friend and fellow Catholic Exchange author, Maura Roan McKeegan. If you click on her name, you'll find Maura's plethora of magnificent articles at Catholic Exchange. In fact, my guardian angel is playing a joke on me, because just pulling up her articles with the intention of linking them here (right this second, after writing this paragraph and looking for my links to embed, as we say in the biz) I've stumbled upon a brand new Birthday Article which went up TODAY - eternally linking me (because my birthday is April 7, also the birthday of another hero, St. Francis Xavier, SJ, and the feast of the educational maverick St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, whose French Christian Brothers taught my dad in Lebanon when he - my dad, not St. Jean - was a boy!) with PADRE PIO and the angels!!! Wait till the Nashville Padre Prayer group hears about THIS! (Thank you Padre, and your angel and Maura's too!)
But lest I forget again to tell you about my specialest gift to you (which as you can see, in God's abundant richness of mercy, is turning into a whole pile of gifts), let's get back to Maura's books! If you click HERE you'll find one of her books on typology - these are the coolest ever if you want to learn things about the Old Testament foreshadowings of Christ, and His fulfillment of them - more than you ever knew, with brilliant illustrations by the great Ted Schluenderfritz (whom I was lucky enough to have design the cover of A Little Way of Homeschooling.
But if you want to see Maura's latest offering, her first Saint book, enrobed with a Caldecott medal winning level of gorgeousness by first time illustrator Patty Bergmon, click here on St. Conrad and the Wildfire. And this is where the final gift comes in - if you can't find your way to purchasing one of Maura's books today (hey, budgets are stretched in unusual ways lately, what with the additions of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer by the vat, to your weekly grocery order) - well let me know!
Remember that Contact Me button? Why not use it now? Contact me with your name and postal address, and I will send you your choice of Maura's beautiful children's books (one per Marcelite, due to constraints on my own budget, but hey, what's a party without party favors?).
When you receive your copy and fall in love with Our Lord, his Biblical friends, and/or St. Conrad - and Maura herself most of all! - you can write a review over at the book's page on amazon. That way more people will know that hope is alive and well, and charity is going to save the day again. As Fr. Donald Kinney, our Carmelite friar-hero, has been fond of saying lately, "These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of Him who loves us!" (Romans 8) So let's triumph in His love today - and enjoy the marvelous gifts He and our sister and brother shower upon us!
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below. To receive new posts, enter your email and click "Subscribe" below.