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77. Faculties of the Human Soul: In General

1. A faculty is the power of a living substance to exercise a specific life-operation. The faculties or powers of the human soul are not one with its substance. These faculties are powers which the soul has; they are not what the soul is. Only in God is power identified with substance.

2. There are various faculties of the human soul, for there are various life-operations in a man. Since man is composed of matter and spirit, powers material and powers spiritual meet in his soul, his substantial form.

3. The various human faculties are distinguished one from another by their respective operations and by the objects which these operations work on or seek to achieve. Thus, for instance, sight and hearing are not one faculty, but two distinct faculties ,because they operate differently, and because sight is for perceiving color while hearing is for perceiving sound. However, accidental differences of operations do not require distinct faculties to explain them. Thus the power to walk, the power to run, the power to shuffle, the power to dance, and the power to kick, are not distinct faculties; they are only accidental variations of the one power of locomotion, that is, the power or faculty of moving from place to place.

4. The human faculties are not a haphazard collection of powers, unrelated and unco-ordinated. There is order in them and among them. In man, for example, the plant or vegetal operations serve the sentient operations, and these, in turn, serve the intellectual operations. The vegetal power of nutrition enables a man to exercise his senses, and from sense-findings the intellect gains concepts, and so the will is won to choose. Thus there is order and arrangement in and among the human faculties.

5. The subject of a faculty is the precise reality that exercises it. A man himself is the subject of all his faculties, but his human nature as such is not the immediate subject of them all. The soul is the subject of the intellective faculties of understanding and willing. Further, the soul-body compound is the subject of all other human faculties. The body alone is not the subject of any human faculty, for the body alone lacks life and all vital operation.

6. All the human vital operations, whether their subject is body-and-soul or soul alone, are rooted in the soul as in their basic principle.

7. Some human faculties operate through the medium of other faculties. It is, for example, through the operation of sense-faculties that the intellect operates to form its ideas or concepts.

8. When the soul is separated from the body by death, its own faculties remain in it. It is still formally an intellective operator; it still exercises intellect and will. But the soul is only virtually vegetal and sentient, and, when it is severed from the body, it has no need or ability actually to exercise the operations of vegetal and sensitive life.

"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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