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93. Man as the Image of God

1. Scripture (Gen. 1:26) tells us that God said, "Letus make man to our own image and likeness." An image is a kindof copy of its prototype. Unless the image is in every way perfect,it is not the equal of its prototype. Finite man cannot be aperfect image of the infinite God. Man is an imperfect image ofGod. This means that man is made to resemble God in somemanner.

2. The image of God in man makes him superior to otherearthly creatures. St. Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. vi12), "Man's excellence consists in the fact that God madehim to His own image by giving him an intellectual soul whichraises him above the beasts of the field." It is true that allcreatures have a likeness to God, some by the fact that they exist,some by the further fact that they live, some by the still furtherfact that they have knowledge. But only intellectual creatures(angels and men) have a close likeness to God; only such creatureshave the spiritual operations of understanding and willing. Ofearthly creatures, man has a true likeness to God; other creatureshave a trace or vestige of God rather than an image.

3. The angels are pure spirits, that is, they areunmingled with matter, and they are not intended for substantialunion with matter. Therefore they are more perfect in theirintellectual nature than man is, and, in consequence, they bear amore perfect image of God than man does. In some respects, however,man is more like to God than angels are. For man proceeds from man,as God (in the mysterious proceeding of the divine Persons)proceeds from God; whereas angels do not proceed from angels. Andagain, man's soul is entirely in the whole body and entirely inevery part of the body; thus it images the mode of God'spresence in the universe.

4. The image of God is in every individual human being. Itshows in this: that God perfectly knows and loves himself, and theindividual human being has a natural aptitude for knowing andloving God. Man, by grace, can love God on earth, althoughimperfectly; in heaven, by grace and glory, man can love Godperfectly. Hencethe image of God is in the individual man.{-It is important to ponder the fact here presentedin a day when more and more importance and value is ascribed tosociety as such.-}

5. The divine image in man reflects God in Unity and alsoin Trinity. In creating man, God said (Gen. 1:26): "Letus make man to our own image andlikeness."

6. The image of God in Trinity appears in man'sintellect and will and their interaction. In God, the Father begetsthe Word; the Father and the Word spirate the Holy Ghost. In man,the intellect begets the word or concept; the intellect with itsword wins the recognition or love of the will.

7. Thus the image of the Trinity is found in the acts ofthe soul. In a secondary way, this image is found in the facultiesof the soul, and in the habits which render the faculties apt andfacile in operation.

8. The image of God is in the soul, not because the soulcan know and love, but because it can know and love God. And thedivine image is found in the soul because the soul turns to God,or, at any rate, has a nature that enables it to turn to God.

9. Man is created to the image and likeness of God. Theimage of God is discerned in the acts and faculties and habits ofthe soul. The likeness of God is either a quality of this image, orit is the state of the soul as spiritual, not subject to decay ordissolution.

"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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"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."
St Philip Neri

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"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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