Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh my soul!

Today Candy is musing on the nature of soul versus spirit, and the afterlife. Does she have your head spinning? Me too. But in case you are curious, here are some Catholic resources on those topics.

From the Catholic Catechism:


The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.

In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human life or the entire human person. But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in man.

The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:

Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.

The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly", with "spirit and soul and body" kept sound and blameless at the Lord's coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. "Spirit" signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.

The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one's being, where the person decides for or against God.


The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom":in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell." Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

"The gospel was preached even to the dead." The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." Jesus, "the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." Henceforth the risen Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."

You can read quotes from the Early Church Fathers on hell.

Catholic Encyclopedia on the soul and spirit. You can also read about hell, and the harrowing of hell, which Candy alludes to when she says "When Jesus died, he preached to
and set free those in the paradise compartment, and they got to go to
heaven, to await their resurrection."

Candy mentions Sheol/Hades: As for hell, that's pretty cut and dry. Sheol/Hades is the holding compartment that the ungodly souls depart to upon death. After the
future judgment, those ungodly souls will be judged, and cast into
Gehenna - the Lake of Fire.

This is where Candy says that Catholics will go after death. She said once that there is a purgatory, but that Catholics will be surprised to learn that they will be dumped from there into hell, rather than go to heaven.

As an interesting side note, Candy refers to Dake and Gail Riplinger as helping her to come to her interpretation. While Catholics often hear that the Bible alone should be our soul authority, and we should cease relying on the interpretations of men, most Christians do rely on various Christian authorities in their interpretations. Candy is no different.

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trish said...

This comment is not about this post. It is about Candy's post today. I didn't read the whole thing because I couldn't get past the note where she said James is Jesu's half brother. In Matthew 4vs21 it says that James is the son of Zebedee. Of course I could not bring this to her attention because she has closed comments. I just want to thank you for all your work on this site. The ignorance angers me and I am glad you ladies have been able to tackle it. God bless. Trish

Kelly said...

Hi Trish, I'm going to work on a post for that later tonight. I had a lot of things scheduled for today, and didn't have any time for an immediate response.