[quote="The_Reginator, post:1, topic:305711"]
For all my fifty odd years (very odd at times) I have thought that our emotions, ability to really think, ability to pray, etc. dwelt in our souls. That our souls used our brains to process data but that the soul was still "conscious", so to speak.
I know that our bodies are essential, so essential that we believe in the resurrection of the body in order to make ourselves complete in heaven.
What has Catholic theology taught about the nature of our souls while here on earth?
The first thing that Catholic theology teaches about the nature of our soul while on earth is that it is because of its spiritual principle (soul) that the body made of matter becomes a living human person. The unity of both the material and spiritual principles is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body. (Source: Council of Vienne, 1312: DS 902. This is the footnote for CCC 366)
**Post 19 by fnr has this realistic paragraph.
"Newer brain imaging technologies like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the symptoms of brain injury patients can show us what brain regions are active when we are using our brain for different things: memory, decision-making, emotion, maintaining homeostasis. But none of these things do what a soul does." **
However, Catholic theology would remove the traditional "decision-making" because that is an activity of the spiritual soul. As far as I know, emotion and memory can affect the brain's working processes. But it is our spiritual will which can seek to overcome the effects of emotion and memory.
One could say that the first thing our soul does is to separate us from all other creatures. It is because of our soul, that God calls us to share in His divine life through knowledge and love, both on earth and in eternal joy. Knowledge refers to the rational, intellective non-material soul. Thus, you are right in saying our "ability to really think" belongs to our spiritual soul. Love refers to our ability to pray and to know the God we are praying to. You are right. This belongs to our spiritual soul.
Regarding your comment -- "That our souls used our brains to process data but that the soul was still "conscious", so to speak." Are you using the word "conscious" meaning that the soul is active in the processing of the brain's data? The spiritual soul is active, not passive. Its rational ability sorts out the data stored in the brain and analyzes it according to our goals or wishes. Then, because the soul has the ability to make decisions, we can freely will a specific choice.
Regarding emotions. We can choose to love or not. Our decisions can be influenced by our subjective emotions. In other words, I think it would be difficult to say that emotions are only in the soul or only in the brain.
While Catholicism considers the soul as belonging to the spiritual world and the anatomy belonging to the material world, it does not teach that humans have two separate natures. Rather it is the unique union of these two worlds which results in the single human nature.
It is a mystery which works.