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What exactly is a soul?

Answer

The glossary at the back of the U.S. version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “soul” as follows:

The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection.

Here’s more:

The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God. In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person. But “soul” also refers to the innermost.aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “Soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man. The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit. Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God—it is not “produced” by the parents—and also that it is immortal: It does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection. Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly,” with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. “Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God. The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God. (CCC 362-368)

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

4 Comments

  • Dagmar says:

    What happens when they bodies are cremated, or dismantled or “not found”?

  • wacoi says:

    All you know is that you don’t know and have convinced yourself that you wouldn’t coz probably too clever to acknowledge God without all facts falling into place? It’s not the Rcc that only talks about God, we even have Islam and other Christians with the same view.Scientology is the new religion of those who perceive themselves above mere belief in God. J

  • Aaron Allanigue says:

    The Church teaches us that the soul is immediately created by God and fused with the fertilized egg at the moment of conception. The soul will now exist for all eternity. It is the soul that gives life to the body. A dead body has no life because the soul has already departed. No human science can possibly “see” a soul. Even today, is there an electron microscope that can take a picture of a single atom? but we believe that an atom exists don’t we? Technology may not reach a point where we can manufacture “spiritual goggles” to see a soul. An ordinary living person does not possess the proper “sense faculty” to see a spirit which is not made up of matter. Can you describe a rainbow to a person who was born blind? That would be impossible because a blind person does not have the sense faculty of sight and yet we know that there is such a thing as a rainbow. Likewise, while living in this material body, we normally “see” things that are only made of matter because it is only through the reflection of light on matter the we see things around us clearly. Therefore, how is it possible to see something that is not made of matter? For those who believe in God, no explanation is NECESSARY. For those who do not, no explanation is POSSIBLE.

  • Simon Peter Mulima says:

    if it is immortal does that mean that it existed before the birth of the person just as it will continue to exist after death?

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