St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 4 Lesson 2

Theology for Beginners: Chp 2. Spirit
Theology for Beginners: All chapters
Catechism: Q1-10
Basics of Catholic Faith by David Rodriguez: 3. The immortal soul
What we Catholics believe: 2. About ourselves
Summa Theologica 1aQ75, Q76
Catholic Encyclopedia: Soul


  1. Recap:

    Chapter 1: Why study theology?

    - Theology is wisdom which is the knowledge of all things in relation to their highest cause.

    - Theology is the greatest of all sciences by the sublimity of its object: God; and by the certitude of its conclusions: the certitude of faith.

    - Theology teaches us our finality: the finality of man is the supernatural perfection of all his faculties - the greatest among these are his intellect and will.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of ourselves by the perfect love of God.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of our neighbour: if we love God, then we love everything He loves.

  2. Definitions

    - A spirit is an immaterial intelligent living being (types: God, the angels and the souls of men)

    - A soul is defined as the first principle of life of those material things which live (plants, animals and men): for we call living things "animate," [i.e. having a soul], and those things which have no life, "inanimate."  Therefore, plants, animals and men have souls, but only the souls of men are spirits.

  3. Properties of a spirit

    - Because it is immaterial it does not change in its being, does not corrupt, does not die (and is therefore eternal).

    - Because it is immaterial it has no mass, no shape, and no place (it is only localised in a place when it acts on something material).

    - We say that spirits are subsistent, which means that they have all they need to exist - they do not need a body to exist (like a plant or animal soul).

  4. Acts of a spirit and a soul

    - The proper acts of a spirit are to know and love. No material organ is required for these activities.

    - The proper acts of a soul are to move and to sense. For these, material organs are required.

    - For man, we can say that for intellection and loving, he does not require a body and organs, but for moving and sensing, he does.

  5. Materialism

    - Materialists believe that there is nothing but matter in the universe. 

    - All phenomena in the universe can be explained in material terms - even thoughts, love, and life.

    - The implications of this are enormous: there is no being, no reason for being (raison d'être), no explanation of a first beginning, life is just a chemical chain reaction, human life has no particular value.

    - Perhaps the majority of people are de facto materialists because they have no thought or desire of anything outside of the material world.

    - A materialist believes that life ends at death.

    - Materialism tends to despair by its very nature.