A friend of mine and I have an ongoing debate about whether or not we should sing the song A Place at the Table. If you are unfamiliar with the song, the lyrics start like this.

For ev’ryone born, a place at the table,
for ev’ryone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for ev’ryone born, a star overhead. . .

As many of our best Catholic songs do, this one speaks about the kingdom of justice and peace that we are aspire to bring to life here on earth. Note that I said “aspire to”— not that we actually, successfully do. We are far to human and sinful to make our world a home to all who are born.

This is not the objection that my friend, a PhD in special education, has with the song. Although the lyrics may talk about including all of those who experience and live with the social ills of our world, my friend regularly and strongly reminds me that there are other issues and people for whom we often have no place at the table.

Those who live with mental health issues. Those who are disabled in any way. And she’s right.

This week’s group of CatholicsRead titles serve as reminder of who we may exclude—unintentionally perhaps—and whose suffering cries out to us for welcome and healing.

Mental Health: Depression

Dust in the Blood from Liturgical Press considers the harrowing realities of life with depression from a Christian theological perspective, reflecting on depression as a wilderness experience.

Physical Illness

About ten years ago, the well-known Catholic priest and music composer Fr. Michael Joncas contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome. On Eagle’s Wings: A Journey Through Illness Toward Healing from Twenty-Third Publications includes five key spiritual insights to deepening one’s relationship with God in times of darkness gained through his time of deep spiritual insight.

Disabilities

Special Saints for Special People: Stories of Saints with Disabilities from Twenty-Third Publications offers children and teens with disabilities the chance to see themselves reflected in the stories of lesser known, but no less powerful, Catholic saints, each with a disability of their own.

Sin and Conversion

The Pocket Guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation from Ascension highlights the journey of reconciliation that leads to transformation and drawing closer to God through the Sacrament.

Women

In Set the World on Fire from Ave Maria Press, Vinita Hampton Wright offers a four-week personal retreat that immerses you in the dramatic lives, historical eras, and groundbreaking ideas of the four female Doctors of the Church.


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Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.

A place at the table for all
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