Faith Development

Catholic Faith Interwoven with Indigenous Spirituality

Pope Francis' Laudato Si

One of the many marvellous things about Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," is that it is written to all of mankind. In his address, Pope Francis recognizes the relationship with the First Nations worldview that everything is connected. All creatures, including human beings are all linked together to make up systems. He states, “in this sense, it is essential to show special care for Indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed. For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values (146)." As we move forward in Truth and Reconciliation, Pope Francis encourages us to come together for our Mother Earth to build a better home for all our future generations.

(source: Red Deer Catholic Regional School)

Integrating the Fruits of the Spirit with the Seven Sacred Teachings

Fruits of the Spirit

Habits or character traits found in a person who is trying to live like Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Fruits of the Spirit











Monthly Fruits of the Holy Spirit Resources

Seven Sacred Teachings








"The Seven Sacred Teachings are at the foundation of North American Indigenous belief. These teachings honor spiritual law and bring us back to our connection to the land—to nature. The Seven Sacred Teachings are represented by seven animals. Each animal offers a special gift and understanding of how we as people should live our lives on Mother Earth."

--Dave Courchene/ Neeghani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man, source: Red Deer Catholic Regional School) )

<-- "Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers" - scroll down to the "Seven Teachings" for an interactive page and hover over each animal to read more about the corresponding teaching.

Smudge and Incense

Sweetgrass is very important to the prayer of First Nation people. From this plant, they light fire and create a fragrant smoke that they believe to be sacred and pleasing to the Great Spirit. To pray in the First Nation way, one must first smudge. This means taking a bit of sweetgrass, use the small end of the braid, and lighting it. As the smoke rises, the individual, or all those gathered for prayer, pass the shell/rock and encircle themselves with the fragrant smoke. It is a purification ritual. The smudge bowl often contains more than one of the four medicines that are sacred to the indigenous people of this continent. It changes depending on the occasion or make up of the group. Sweet grass, sage, cedar and tobacco all have a sacred role in cleansing the space and gathering and in expressing gratitude to the Creator.

Smudging is very common among the First Nation. All ritual, all ceremony begins with smudging. While done with reverence, the action is typically not formal. Each person smudges in his or her own way, and smiles and assurances are often exchanged while people smudge.

Catholics use incense, typically, for high ceremonies and special occasions our worship will include incensing of the altar, the Book of the Gospels, the gifts of bread and wine, and the assembly of worshipers. It is a sign of prayer and purification. From the earliest Christian days, incensing has been associated with Jesus, beginning with the Magi gift of frankincense (Matt. 2:10-11). Like sweetgrass for the First Nation, frankincense has always been used to honour God.

For Catholics, incense is typically used in formal, communal settings. Yet this practice has its origins in personal prayer. The theological foundation for incensing lies in the very personal prayer of Psalm 141. "Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening sacrifice" (v.2).

Whether we use frankincense in formal liturgy, or sweetgrass in our personal prayer, or simply light a candle at the dinner table, we can be assured that our prayer will permeate the atmosphere all around us, intermingling with God's presence which is as close as the air we breathe.

For more information about smudging please click here.<>​

World Religions

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Spirituality Links from CARFLEO