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76. Union of Soul and Body in Man

1. The spiritual soul of a human being is the substantial form of the living man. It is this spiritual soul which, substantially joined with matter, sets up and constitutes an existing human being. Man's soul is not in his body as a hand is in a glove or as a rower is in a boat; it is not united with the body as an organist is united with the musical instrument in producing harmonies. All these examples are instances of accidental union. And the human soul is joined with its body in substantial union; with its body it constitutes one substance, the human substance.

2. Each human being has his own soul. Some ancient teachers mistakenly believed that there is one universal soul for all men, a general soul. There are as many human souls as there are individual human beings.

3. Each human being has his own soul and it constitutes him as an existing living substance of the human kind. And each man has only one soul. Although man has the three grades of life - vegetal, sentient or animal, and human - he is only one being, one substance. The human soul is, in itself or as such, a spiritual soul; this spiritual soul, inasmuch as, in the body, it can be the root-principle of bodily functions, is equivalently vegetal and sentient. We say, in technical words, the human soul is formally spiritual, and virtually vegetal and sentient.

4. The spiritual and intellectual soul of a man is his only substantial form. For a man is one substance; he is constituted as one substance of the human kind by one substantial form. But the human kind is the intellectual kind, not merely a plant or an animal. Hence a man is constituted in his kind by an intellectual or spiritual principle, and this is his one spiritual soul, his one substantial form.

5. The human soul does not receive its knowledge with its nature when it is created, as is the case with angels. It must acquire its knowledge. And it gains its knowledge through the ministering office of bodily senses. From sense-findings the soul arises, by use of its power or faculty of mind, understanding, intellect, to supra-sensible knowledge - to ideas, judgments, discursive thought.

6. The primal matter with which the human soul is joined as substantial form is not a specially prepared or "disposed" matter, with special or superior qualities. For primal matter is not of various kinds; primal matter has no qualities and can have none; primal matter does not even exist until existence is given it by substantial form.

7. A substantial form is united with primal matter to constitute an existing body. There is no medium, no connecting link, for this union of substantial form and primal matter. It is an immediate union. Therefore, the human soul (which is the substantial form of the living human body) is joined substantially and immediately with the body.

8. The substantial form of a body, living or lifeless, is in the body it constitutes, but not circumscriptively, not dimensionally, not part here and part there. The substantial form which makes a block of marble the kind of thing it is, is found in the block and in every part of the block. The whole block of marble is marble; so is any piece you break off from the block; and the unbroken block is marble in every part. And in a plant, one life is present throughout the living substance, in root and stem, in branch and twig, in flower and fruit; the life-principle or substantial form of the plant makes it this plant throughout. Now, a perfection found in lesser substantial forms is certainly not lacking in greater ones. What is true of bodies as such and of living bodies less than man, is true of man. Man's substantial form is whole in his living body and whole in every part of that unbroken living body. But the soul does not perform the same operations in every part of the body; there are different bodily parts or organs for different bodily operations. Hence we say: the human soul is present in its entirety of essence in the body and in every part of the body; but it is not thus wholly present in every part as to specific operations. The soul is primarily related to the body; it is secondarily related to the various parts of the body considered severally.

"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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