Angel of the North

Angel of the North by Blake Debassige

In this painting, The Angel of the North by Ojibwa artist Blake Debassige, we can see how some First Nations artists are integrating the spiritual traditions of their own people with those of the Christian tradition. The painting also reveals the connection between the natural world and the spiritual world.

  1. What familiar symbols can you find?
  2. What elements in the painting show the importance of the natural world to Aboriginal peoples?

Note the wings of the angel in the painting. They are shaped like the wings of an eagle, a spiritual symbol often seen in Aboriginal art. Placing the wings of an eagle on the shoulders of an angel symbolizes a merging of Aboriginal spirituality and Christianity. the angel is drawn as a two-dimensional, transparent figure, revealing the spiritual nature within – a style that is common among the Woodland school of artists made famous in Canada by Norval Morrisseau. The rays from above suggest the presence of the Great Spirit or God. The angel has released one of her sacred feathers as a gift to those who live on the Earth for use in their sacred rituals. The eagle is one of the most sacred spiritual symbols for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Angel of the North and other similar paintings illustrate the way in which some peoples have integrated their spirituality with their Christian faith.


Isaiah 40:31


Catholicism is not simply a system of beliefs; it is also a life to be lived: a life of worship, shaped by the Eucharist and the other sacraments, and a life of moral commitment and behaviour, shaped by moral values rooted in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools foster this way of life grounded in the love of God and values of the Reign of God proclaimed in the gospels.

Spirituality in Catholic schools consists in letting God be present in each moment of the day, becoming attuned to God”s presence in the ups and downs of the life journey of the school community. Prayer and a commitment to the moral and ethical values of the gospel provide the opening to God’s presence. The Catholic school, therefore, is a place of prayer, a place where the principals of Christian morality find expression in the interactions that take place there.

Catholic schools invite all members of the learning community into that place of prayer and moral living by modelling a prayer life in the school and by providing a learning environment characterized by relationships that are caring and nurturing.

Strategies for nurturing Spirituality in Catholic Schools:

  • Make resources for spirituality available to all members of the community
  • Provide opportunities for retreat and reflection days
  • Participate in faith development activities
  • Structure prayer into the life of the school on a daily basis
  • Celebrate Catholic identity through prayer, liturgy, and worship
  • Celebrate school events, the various passages and seasons of the year with religious rituals
  • Celebrate school patron saints, school feasts

How do Catholic schools integrate spirituality into the learning environment?

Paths to Spirituality

One of the goals of Hinduism is to help people achieve their full spiritual potential. Since all people are different, Hinduism does not teach just one way to reach this goal. Instead it identifies four basic spiritual personality types and a path for each. These paths are known as yoga, which comes from the same root as the word yoke. It means, “to place under training.”

The first type includes people who seek spirituality through reflection. Their yoga is jnana, or knowledge.

The second type includes people who seek to understand things emotionally. Their yoga is bhakti, devotion and love.

The third type includes people who take an active approach to their goals. Their yoga is karma, or work.

The fourth spiritual type includes people who like a methodical approach to understanding spirituality. Their path is raja yoga, or royal yoga. This is the yoga that uses physical postures to achieve spiritual illumination.

Think about yourself and your approach to things. Which of these approaches to spirituality would be best for you: jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, karma yoga, or raja yoga?

Raja Yoga

Hinduism offers many paths to spirituality. One approach is called raja yoga. According to raja yoga, each of us has different layers of “self.” The first layer is the physical self – our bodies. The second layer is the conscious part of our minds – the things we are aware of and try to think about. The third layer is the subconscious. This layer is shaped by our experiences, but we are usually not aware of how it affects us. The fourth layer is even deeper than the subconscious. It is the layer of Being.

The aim of raja yoga is to reach the layer of Being. The first step in reaching it calls for being completely still. Sit for one minute without moving and without thinking. At the end of one minute, write your reactions to the first step of raja yoga.