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

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Read Matthew 6:24-34.

In this Gospel reading, before Jesus tells his listeners not to worry, he says “No one can serve two masters.” Who is Jesus refering to? One master is God(Love), surely, but who is the other?

Could Jesus be refering to more specific “evils” – evils that cause us to worry and make us miserable?

What kinds of worry are normal? What kinds of worry lead to debilitating anxiety?

Consider the character Tony from Wm. Paul Young’s, “Cross Roads” – after reading Chapter 3. What “masters” does (or doesn’t) he serve? What other ideas come to mind?

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The tradition of the Catholic Church lists seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Each gift is  a part of what St. Paul calls the greatest spiritual gift – the gift of love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

  1. Wisdom “You can recognize a wise person by …”
    • 1 Kings 3:16-28
    • 2 Kings 5:1-14
    • Matthew 8:5-13
  2. Understanding “You can recognize an understanding person by …”
    • Mark 2:1-12
    • Ruth 1:3-18
    • Luke 10:38-42
  3. Counsel (Right Judgment) “You can recognize a person with the gift of counsel by …”
  4. Knowledge “You can recognize a person with the gift of knowledge by …”
    • Matthew 22:23-33
    • Luke 10:25-28
    • Genesis 41:15-36
  5. Fortitude (Courage) “You can recognize a person with the gift of fortitude by …”
    • Acts 4:1-22
    • Acts 9:10-19
  6. Piety (Reverence) “A pious person will …”
    • Acts 16:16-34
    • Acts 2:43-47
  7. Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe in God’s Presence) “You can recognize a person with the gift of fear of the Lord by …”
    • Proverbs 19:23
    • Job 1:13-22
    • Exodus 3:4-6
    • Luke 5:12-14


Response Idea #1:

Low tech (pencils, paper, bible, people): Divide class into 7 groups and assign a gift to investigate. First, investigate and explain what each gift is. Then, read and discuss each scripture reading accompanying that gift – summarize each story and tell how the gift is presented in the story. Then, write a complete sentence or two completing the phrase next to each gift.

Response Idea #2

High tech (computers, blogs): Collect words/phrases exploring a gift to create a Word Cloud:

Upload and embed your word cloud in a blog post with a write-up of Idea #1.

Create a hyperlink list of all 7 gifts (link to any 6 of your classmate’s completed posts on their gift).

Response Idea #3

High Tech: Listen to “Strong Enough?” by Matthew West. Read the lyrics from the google. Write a post discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. How do the gifts of the Spirit make us “Strong Enough”?

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What do they expect of me now?
Write about yourself as you enter into Grade 8.

Consider these questions to get you organized in your writing:
Are you excited or scared? What does being in Grade 8 mean to you?
Who are the people in your life that have expectations of you this year? What do you think they expect of you?
What about you is just fine the way it is? What about you do you want to change? What about you do you want to leave behind?
What expectations do you have for yourself for Grade 8? Are they the same as your parents, teachers, friends expectations of you? How are they the same/different?

Share your writing with your teacher by submitting a google doc.

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The following is a list of links to all the reflections, assignments and projects you need to complete your Religion 35 independent study course.

TOPIC ONE: WORLD RELIGIONS       World Religions Project


1.  Utilitarianism vs. Altruism (organ donors)

2.  Is Conscience Something to Pay Attention to?   Here is link to Temptation page

3.  Dead Poets Society Assignment

4. Does Religion Benefit You?

5.  Is our future in Good hands?


6.  Dead Man Walking  Reflection 1     and     Dead Man Walking Reflection 2

7.  Dead Man Walking Assignment


8. Tuesdays with Morrie Reflection

9.  Tuesdays with Morrie Assignment


Reflection rubric

Movie Study Assignment Rubric

World Religions Project Rubric

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Humanity holds a special place in this work for the world. We humans are not just statistics, we are creatures with an infinite dignity conferred on us by the Creator.

So much of the discussion of climate change and how our responsibility to the planet involves dry statistics that are easy to ignore. Less easy is ignoring statistics with faces: the poor at our doorstep, the workers in farms, fields, and factories whose standard of living is low because ours is high. Pope Francis calls on us all to remember the human part of this equation – we are all important in God’s eyes, and it is our responsibility to care for one another in new and more intentional ways.



What does my local homeless shelter need for its guests? What can I provide?



God of creation, when riches for one mean poverty for another, help me seek the welfare of all.

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Bible Readings:

Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Conscience”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
  • “Confidence” 2 Corinthians 1:12-14
  • “A Clear Heart” Matthew 5:21-24
  • “Law and Conscience” Acts 15:1-21
  • “Law in the Heart” Romans 2:12-16


The reflection will take effort, but it is an effort to focus – for yourself – an ego-conscience. If that’s not worth the effort, you will always have a personality, but it is unlikely you will ever develop character.

Draw a line down the centre of a piece of paper. On one side of the line, list the do’s and don’ts your parents, teachers, and media (other external forces) have taped on your Superego that you have already checked against reality and find are now wrong – or at least far too simplified. On the other side, write the elements of your Superego that you now see for yourself are valid.

Quotable Quotes:

“Faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

“The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by the objective standards of moral conduct.” – The Church in the Modern World, 16

“Return to the root and you will find the meaning.” – Sengstan

“A man’s action is only a picture book of his creed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Rather fail with honour than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles

“In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.” – Mohandas Gandhi



  1. Roughly how many of your peers do you guess cheat routinely on homework, quizzes, and tests? What are the reasons most would give for doing that? Why is “Well, everybody does it” not a legitimate excuse? If trust and honesty are the glue that holds together the web of our human ecology, what is the effect of widespread cheating on the web of society?
  2. When schools discover that a great deal of cheating is going on, the administration frequently will encourage teachers and exam supervisors to have greater vigilance and require strong punishment when someone is caught cheating. Similarly, with the increase of crime in our cities, the almost automatic response is to call for an increase in the number of police. What would be a better way to attack the problems of cheating and crime at their roots?
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Bible Readings:

Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Humanity”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.
  • “The Good Samaritan” Luke 10:30-37
  • “Come Higher!” Luke 14:15-24
  • “Different Gifts” Genesis 49:1-28
  • “The Giving Soul” Hebrews 5:11-14
  • “Degrading” Isaiah 1:2-6


No human is merely a higher-level animal. Each human has the potential – which no animal has – to be far far more.

  • What is the difference between being human and acting human?
  • What test is there that you can apply to an entity to see if it is human – and not something less?
  • When does a baby start being a human entity?
  • When does a person in a coma stop being human?
  • People in mental hospitals, children who murder without any remorse, mob hit men – are all less than fully human, but are they less than human?


Quotable Quotes:

“What is man that you think of him; mere man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:1,3-9

“No man is free who is not master of himself.” – Epictetus

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley

“Vision … It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be.” Robert Collier




  1. Read aloud – or even memorize – Shylock’s response to Salanio and Salarino an The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1, that begins “To bait fish withal…” What is Shylock trying to justify? What arguments does he use to justify it? Debate the points for and against Shylock’s argument.
  2. Lord of the Flies embodies the thesis: Human beings are evil at the core, and the only things keeping humans from open savagery are control by civilized society and its law enforcement agencies. Catcher in the Rye embodies precisely the opposite thesis: We are all born innocent and are corrupted – or even driven mad – by the wickedness of the society we are thrust into. Which thesis is true? Why? Or are they both true? Why?
  3. Explain these statements:
    • All other natures on earth are commands; only human nature  is an invitation.
    • Guilt is one of the many qualities that separate humans from beasts.
    • Baby : cub = acorn : marble
    • Whatever makes us grow as knowers and lovers is good; whatever makes us shrivel as knowers and lovers is evil.
    • Unless you choose to know and love, you automatically choose to be less than human.
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Bible Readings:

Skim these Scripture passages. Pick one that appeals to you and

  1. summarize its main point,
  2. tell how it relates to the theme “Understanding Epistemology”,
  3. list one or two thoughts that entered your mind when you read it.

The Wealth of Wisdom Proverbs 8:1-10

Nature and Gods Will Job 38:1-7

Solomon 1 Kings 3:6-14

Salaam Numbers 22:22-35

God’s Will Everywhere Acts 17:22-28



Most likely you’ve been in an argument with your parents – or with somebody – when suddenly it all became clear: They’re right.

But you keep arguing. When that happens, you’re not honestly looking for the truth. What are you looking for? Why?


Quotable Quotes:

“Truth is to be sought in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and our social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching … and a dialogue. In the course of these, we explain to one another the truth we have discovered, or think we have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth.” Vatican Council II, Declaration on Religious Freedom, 3



Bring to class some object whose purpose you are betting no one else in the class can guess. Whoever in the class stumps everybody else, including the teacher, wins a prize.

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Virtually all climate scientist are making it plain that the time for drastic action on the environment is now, and they caution that it may already be too late to stop some of the change. Some people reject the scientific consensus and say we need more time to study the problem. Pope Francis says that attempts to discredit calls for radical change come from the same forces that keep the world from addressing the issue of global poverty. Poverty has many faces – neglect of nature leads to neglect of humanity. He urges us not to continue our blindnesss but begin to reach out in love and compassion to the poor.

Who and where are the poor where I live?

God of creation, break the hardness of my heart so that I may hear the cries of the poor and then do more to work on their behalf.

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