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Question Title Posted By Question Date
Spirit and soul Nivlem Friday, August 27, 2004


Dear Bro,

I've read a book by Fr. Samuel, who heads the Cebu ministry in Phillipines. This ministry has a great deal of experiences in deliverance, healing and exorcism. There is one thing I'm not sure.

He says that our spirits are made up of intellect and will. The soul is made up of internal and external senses. External senses refer to our five senses, touch, smell and so on. Internal senses refers to memory, imagination and so on. Emotions reside between the body and the soul. Are all these true?

A soul after death, in state of sin is sent to purgatory to be purified but what about the spirit? Are the soul and spirit seperated after death? I'm rather confused.

What is e Church's definition of spirit and soul? Finally, Christ says that we who worship God who is Spirit must worship in spirit and in truth, what does He mean here?

Thanks for your help.

Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM+

Dear Nivlem:

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that there exist three kinds of soul:

1) The Vegatative Soul: This is the essential life force that imbues and animates all living things; that characteristic that is living creature rather than an inanimate object. The Vegatative Soul is ordered toward material life. Plants have vegatative souls.

2) The Sensitive Soul: This is the faculty that allows us to sense the world around us (i.e. the five senses) and to relate to interpret those sensations in our brain. The Sensitive Soul is ordered toward the material life and the biological body. Animals have vegatative and sensitive souls.

3) The Rational Soul: This is that part of humanity that is in the image of God. The Rational Soul has the ability to reflect, to contemplate, to be self-aware, to be creative, to love. The Rational Soul is ordered to both the body and spirit. Human beings have all three types of soul.

The Soul is closely related with the body. When we die our souls are temporarily separated from our bodies, but in the end our souls will be reunited with our resurrected bodies.

The terms "spirit" and "soul" are often used interchangably. In a discussion of the three types of soul, as above, soul tends to imply the material existance of man. Spirit, then, refers to that part of man that is immaterial.

Quoting from Father Hardon's Pocket Catholic Dictionary on the word "spirit":

That which is positively immaterial. It is pure spirit if it has no dependence on matter either for its existence or for any of its activities. God in uncreated pure Spirit; the angels are created pure spirits. The human soul (in Aquinas' terminology, the "rational soul") is more properly called spiritual. Although it can exist independent of the body, it nevertheless in this life depends extrinsically on the body for its operations, and in the life to come retains a natural affinity for the body, with which after the resurrection it will be reunited for all eternity.

In otherwords, the "souls" of plants and animals are material and will die. The soul of Man is spiritual and lives forever, but yet naturally ordained toward the body. The human soul is individually created by God in respect to the body it will inform and infused in the body at conception. Human Nature is derived both from soul and the material body which is animated by the soul.

These are difficult concepts but hopefully this clarifies the subject a little.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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