I was curious as to the Roman Catholic position (if there is one) on weather the spirit and the soul of a person are seperate and distinct or are they the same. Are we made up of three parts (body, soul, spirit) or two (body, soul/spirit)?
As I recall, the Catechism says that we are a body/soul unity. Our physical and spiritual aspects are not two different natures stuck together, they are actually one thing.
According to apologist Frank Sheed in Theology For Beginners, the best way to think of it is to, first, consider other spirits that we know about–the angels and God. We know that these are pure spirits. We also have a spirit, that is, a higher intelligence that we call Us. So far so good.
Secondly, consider that every living creature --plants and animal-- has a soul, that is, an animating force (anima) that enables them to move and respond to stimuli. So, while we resemble the angels in that we are spiritual, we also resemble the lower animals that we have an enfleshed soul.
Finally, what makes man unique among God’s creation, is that we have the only spirit that is also a soul. That is why we are not purely spirit, like God and the angels, or just animated, unintelligent (in the higher sense) animals. We are a unique composite of both body and soul. Our bodies are part of us, and when we enter eternity, we shall recieve our bodies renewed and, with our spirit-soul, fit for eternal life,
Sheed, of course, does a much better job of explaining this and I highly recommend his book, found at the link below…
I think I will be geting that book soon too. I have heard that he also gave the best explanation for the trinity ever given in that book.