What is man? — Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.
Before the creation of man, God said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness; and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26).
God formed the body of man from the slime of the earth; but He breathed the soul into man’s body. In this way the soul came direct from God, and indicates closer likeness to Him.
We should always reverence our likeness to God, trying to perfect it by making our soul as holy as possible. Once the enemies of a king tried to make his son do something wrong. But the youth proudly and resolutely answered, “No! I am the son of the king!” By Baptism man becomes the adopted son of God, Who is infinitely higher than any earthly king. His soul is like his Father in Heaven.
The soul of man is different from the soul of brute animals. Animals have senses and instinct, but neither reason nor free will. Free will is that power of the soul to choose whether to act or not to act.
If a horse has not eaten for a day, and you put some hay before him, he will eat, because his instinct moves him to do so. But a hungry man may fast for days, and still refuse to eat however hungry he may be, if he wills not to eat. The difference between man’s free will and animal instinct is that a man can say “No” to himself.
The soul and the body are not loosely connected parts of man; they are united in a substantial union. The soul is not located in any particular member of the body, but is whole and entire in each part
Is this likeness to God in the body or in the soul? — This likeness to God is chiefly in the soul. Man continues in this likeness to God only when he remains in God’s grace, for then he is a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).
Like God, man’s soul is an immortal spirit, with understanding and free will. Some deny the existence of the soul, because it cannot be seen; yet the same people would not deny the existence of human reason, even if this cannot be seen, either.
Some claim that man has two souls, one good and one evil, striving for mastery. But the struggle that we often experience comes from only one soul with different tendencies arising from the fact of our being made of both body and soul, partly material and partly spiritual. In a living person, the soul should not be considered apart from the body; their union is as close as the relation between a musician and his instrument at the hour of a concert.
Through his two faculties of the soul, understanding and free will, man obtains dominion over the material world, as God possesses power over the entire universe.
As God said before creating man: “Let him have dominion over the beasts and the whole earth” (Gen. 1:26). Through his likeness to God, man has the power to know the true, the good, the beautiful, so far even as to know the Source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, God Himself.
How can we prove that the soul of man is immortal? — We can prove that the soul of man is immortal, because man’s acts of intelligence are spiritual; therefore, his soul must be a spiritual being, not dependent on matter, and hence not subject to decay or death.
If even matter cannot totally disappear, however small the particle, how can the soul of man, of a far higher order, be thought to suffer extinction?
Man has mind and will. He can reflect, reason, plan for the future, make judgments, remember. These prove his soul spiritual. Such a soul cannot die as the body does.
Man longs for an ideal state of perfect happiness, such happiness as is impossible to attain on earth. This universal longing must have been placed in men’s souls by God Himself; it is a desire for the infinite happiness of a union with the Creator. If, therefore, man’s soul were not immortal, he would have no chance to realize his dream of bliss, and God would be cruel in implanting the longing for it in his breast.
There have been many instances of the dead appearing to the living. In the Gospel, Moses and Elias appeared on Mount Thabor to Christ and three of His Apostles. At Christ’s death, many who were dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.
The Blessed Virgin has through the centuries continued to appear to men; such instances are almost innumerable. Saints have also returned to earth to comfort or instruct the living; even souls in purgatory have returned, to beg for prayers. We must, however, be very careful about believing in particular instances of appearances by the dead; the devil can and often does use this instrumentality to trick the gullible.
Belief in the immortality of the soul and a life after death is universal among mankind, including the most primitive peoples.
In the Bible are many instances of the belief of the Jews in another life, where the souls of the dead would be. For instance, one of their laws forbade holding with the dead. The Greeks and Romans believed in Tartarus and Elysium, places for the dead. Other nations have different cults to the dead, especially during their burial ceremonies. Such cults would be meaningless did those who took part in them not have an idea of another life for departed souls.
If the soul were not immortal, the wicked who commit evil all their lives would go unpunished. The just who suffer continually on earth would not receive any reward. This would be injustice impossible to the perfect justice of God.
If even man, imperfect as he is, can see innumerable examples of injustice in life, could not God? Would He not have a way of correcting such injustice? And if so, since it cannot be corrected in this life, there must be another, where immortal souls go to obtain perfect justice.
Holy Scripture, the Word of God, teaches that the soul is immortal.
“And many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always” (Dan. 12:2). Our Lord Himself said to the good thief, “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. l0:28). “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32).
This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.
God Bless BJS!!