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75. Man's Soul

1. A soul is the life-principle in a living body. The soul actualizes a body as living, and it is the substantial form which makes the living body the specific kind of living body it is: plant, animal, man. The soul of a plant and the soul of an animal are called material souls not as though they were made of bodily stuff, but to indicate their dependence upon the bodily organism which they determine and actualize.

2. The human soul is a non bodily substance endowed with intellect and will. In this life the human soul has an extrinsic dependence on the body, but not an intrinsic dependence. It can exist and operate per se even if it be severed from the body. And this means that it is truly a subsistent substance.

3. The plant soul and the animal soul are not subsistent substances. They cannot exist and operate per se without the plant body and the animal body; indeed, it is the complete body, plant or animal, that exists and acts per se.Material souls are incomplete, non subsistentsubstances.

4. The human soul is subsistent, yet, while it is a complete soul, it is not a complete human being. The complete human being is a compound of body and soul. Plato mistakenly thought that the soul is the complete man, and that the body is a kind of container or prison. But this is not true. Man is a single compound substance made of body and soul; the soul can exist and perform its proper operations even if severed from the body.

5. Therefore the human soul is a spiritual substance. It is an element of the human compound, but in itself it has no compounding or composition; there is no matter or material in it. It is a substantial spiritual form. It is a spirit.

6. The substantial and subsistent form cannot decay, break up, or cease to exist. For it has no material elements or parts to fall away; it has no intrinsic dependence on matter for existence and operation. Hence it is an incorruptible substance; it cannot perish or die.

7. The human soul is not of the same species (that is, definite and complete kind of essence) as the angels. Indeed, we have seen that each angel is a species in itself; angels are only of generic sameness. But a human soul is like an angel in the fact that it is a spiritual substance, and it is unlike an angel in the fact that it is a spiritual substance designed to be united with a body. Again, all human souls are of the same species, whereas each angel is itself the only member of its species.

"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"It is well to choose some one good devotion, and to stick to it, and never to abandon it."
St Philip Neri

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