Catholic Teaching on the Person and the Saints

From my understanding, the Person is neither solely the Body, nor solely the Spirit/Soul. We are a unison of both. When one experiences one thing, so does the other.

My questions to go along with this (save that I understand the teaching of who/what the person is) are as follows-

If a person is classified as a unison of both body/soul, than how do the Saints exist in Heaven and are able to pray for us, without their body?

Also, with the understanding of the Saints being in Heaven (perfected through purgatory) how is it that one Saint’s Prayer intentions be invoked differently than another’s if they have been made one in God? Should they not be equal? I’ve heard that the special graces that we received on Earth are amplified in Heaven.

Thanks for any help in increasing my understanding. The more I understand, the easier it is for me to explain to others. I want to preface that it took me a while to understand the Communion of Saints-but once I did, it was a beautiful reality. I believe, but now the theology of it is what I’m trying to pan out.

The spiritual part of man is what enables him to pray and to worship God. That part of us still survives after death. So even though it’s true that the saints in heaven are incomplete without their bodies, they still have the capability to pray and worship because that action isn’t dependent on the body.

Does that make more sense?

Also, with the understanding of the Saints being in Heaven (perfected through purgatory) how is it that one Saint’s Prayer intentions be invoked differently than another’s if they have been made one in God? Should they not be equal? I’ve heard that the special graces that we received on Earth are amplified in Heaven.

This is actually a really good question and one I don’t know the theological reason behind. Strictly speaking, any saint can be prayed to for any intention. But why we choose certain saints for certain intentions, I don’t really know. Hopefully another poster can shed more light. If I had to guess, I think the graces received in life do play a part.

Thanks for any help in increasing my understanding. The more I understand, the easier it is for me to explain to others. I want to preface that it took me a while to understand the Communion of Saints-but once I did, it was a beautiful reality. I believe, but now the theology of it is what I’m trying to pan out.

Don’t know if what I said helped at all, but I hope I was able to clear things up a little. God bless you on your journey! :thumbsup:

Well, we know that the Holy Angels, being pure Spirits, can pray with us so I don’t see that as an issue. For example the Angel at Fatima taught the children several prayers. This one of note a.k.a the angel prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”

Also, with the understanding of the Saints being in Heaven (perfected through purgatory) how is it that one Saint’s Prayer intentions be invoked differently than another’s if they have been made one in God? Should they not be equal?

I think it’s pretty clear we, as subjects, will not all be equal in the Kingdom of God and so I think Heaven right now is similar in that saints are greater and lesser by the degree of sanctity they achieved in their earthly life. For example Our Lady having achieved the highest level of sanctity in Her earthly life is and will be know as Queen of the Angels & the Saints and so on and so forth right down to us :wink:

First, as a matter of clarity, a human being is a body-soul union. A person is a different category. Angels are persons, for example, but are pure spirits. So, for the sake of this discussion, let it be understood that we’re discussing the human person.

As for this particular question, I have spent time contemplating it, myself, but from a different angle. I asked the question, “if nothing imperfect can enter heaven, how is it that a dead person may enter into heaven when their nature is in an imperfect state, namely their soul is separated from their corrupted body?” I believe the answer I arrived at is sufficient to answer yours as well. Here are my thoughts on it:

Firstly, I don’t think it suffices to say that being morally perfect is what matters when speaking about “nothing imperfect may enter the presence of God.” Yes, moral perfection is necessary, but I believe full perfection of being is also necessary, so the body/soul union must be restored first. So, to my mind, another solution needed to be found.

One aspect of Heaven that is spoken of time and again in Scripture is that it is Eternal. This is different from Everlasting. Everlasting implies no end, but usually denotes a beginning. So, for example, the life of the human soul is everlasting. It had a beginning, but it will endure forever. But it is not eternal. Eternality implies neither beginning nor end, and is a state belonging to that which is actually infinite in being. God is Eternal.

But Eternality doesn’t only mean “without beginning and end.” Eternality is the counterpart to Temporality. Temporality is a state belonging to that which is finite in being. That is, all created things, being finite, exist in the temporal state. That is, in time. Temporality is the experience of existence in its logical, sequenced motion. That is, the finite being experiences reality one moment after the other.

In Eternality, God experiences all moments at once, simultaneously, and not in succession. The difference between these two modes of experience might be likened to the difference between logical reasoning (which consists in considering each bit of evidence successively to arrive at a conclusion) and intuitive apprehension (which consists in immediately grasping all bits of evidence at once to arrive at a conclusion).

When a Saint arrives at moral perfection, and gains entry into Heaven, he is said to have gained entry into Eternal Life, that is, the Eternal Life of God. If this is true, then it would seem to me that entry into such a life would mean entry into a life wherein time, the succession of moments, becomes less defined, and all moments come together in the unity of Eternity. If this is true, then in arriving at the “Pearly Gates,” the saint simultaneously arrives at the Final Judgment and receives his resurrected body and is made perfect.

Therefore, in Eternity, the Saint may, by God’s grace, hear all the prayers that have ever been prayed to him, and will ever be prayed to him, and offer those prayers, through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to the Father, who has the power to dispense His grace throughout all time.

If my musings prove true, then the answer to your question is that the Saints do not hear and answer your prayers without a body, but rather hear and answer them with their resurrected and glorified bodies from the end of time.

[quote=MrSnaith] First, as a matter of clarity, a human being is a body-soul union. A person is a different category. Angels are persons, for example, but are pure spirits. So, for the sake of this discussion, let it be understood that we’re discussing the human person.
[/quote]

The Father is pure spirit and so is the Holy Spirit, but they are still considered persons. So this makes sense.

As for this particular question, I have spent time contemplating it, myself, but from a different angle. I asked the question, “if nothing imperfect can enter heaven, how is it that a dead person may enter into heaven when their nature is in an imperfect state, namely their soul is separated from their corrupted body?”

Does Human nature=having a body? Of course, it’s part of it, but is that a defining point? Afterall-God, COULD take the form of a body, but that doesn’t mean he has a human nature. Although, Christ is God and Christ DID add a human nature, and therefore, God DOES have a human nature.

Firstly, I don’t think it suffices to say that being morally perfect is what matters when speaking about “nothing imperfect may enter the presence of God.” Yes, moral perfection is necessary, but I believe full perfection of being is also necessary, so the body/soul union must be restored first. So, to my mind, another solution needed to be found.

One aspect of Heaven that is spoken of time and again in Scripture is that it is Eternal. This is different from Everlasting. Everlasting implies no end, but usually denotes a beginning. So, for example, the life of the human soul is everlasting. It had a beginning, but it will endure forever. But it is not eternal. Eternality implies neither beginning nor end, and is a state belonging to that which is actually infinite in being. God is Eternal.

But Eternality doesn’t only mean “without beginning and end.” Eternality is the counterpart to Temporality. Temporality is a state belonging to that which is finite in being. That is, all created things, being finite, exist in the temporal state. That is, in time. Temporality is the experience of existence in its logical, sequenced motion. That is, the finite being experiences reality one moment after the other.

In Eternality, God experiences all moments at once, simultaneously, and not in succession. The difference between these two modes of experience might be likened to the difference between logical reasoning (which consists in considering each bit of evidence successively to arrive at a conclusion) and intuitive apprehension (which consists in immediately grasping all bits of evidence at once to arrive at a conclusion).

When a Saint arrives at moral perfection, and gains entry into Heaven, he is said to have gained entry into Eternal Life, that is, the Eternal Life of God. If this is true, then it would seem to me that entry into such a life would mean entry into a life wherein time, the succession of moments, becomes less defined, and all moments come together in the unity of Eternity. If this is true, then in arriving at the “Pearly Gates,” the saint simultaneously arrives at the Final Judgment and receives his resurrected body and is made perfect.

Therefore, in Eternity, the Saint may, by God’s grace, hear all the prayers that have ever been prayed to him, and will ever be prayed to him, and offer those prayers, through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to the Father, who has the power to dispense His grace throughout all time.

If my musings prove true, then the answer to your question is that the Saints do not hear and answer your prayers without a body, but rather hear and answer them with their resurrected and glorified bodies from the end of time.

This is quite the thought process-something I’ve contemplated myself (although, admittedly, not in the sense of the Saints and their bodies, but just in the sense of the contemplation of God and his eternity. It would by default make sense that this would have to go with it. That is, the Saints who enter eternity), however, as we are finite beings, trying to grasp the concept of eternity in this way is a little mind-boggling.

It brings into question predestination and free-will.

Through my own observence of the little that the Bible actually says about predestination, is that we are all predestined to be in Christ. But we must conciously make that choice. Although God already knows whether or not we ultimately make that choice, we, as you said, live in time and space.

No, human nature does not “equal” “having a body”. It’s not a 1-1 correlation. However, yes, the body is a defining point of human nature. Not the defining point, but certainly a defining point. That doesn’t mean other creatures who have bodies are automatically human. Animals are bodily creatures. So are vegetables and materials. Moreover, throughout the OT angels come in bodily form.

The spirit is also a defining point of humanity. Again, not the defining point, but certainly a defining point. What makes humans human is the fact they are a body-soul (or more properly speaking body-spirit) union. Animals are also body-soul unions, but their souls are mortal and die with the body. Humans have spiritual souls, and are therefore immortal. Thus, death is an unnatural state for humans. That is, separation of the body from the soul.

Yes, this is correct. And we must always keep in mind that God’s knowledge of our future actions isn’t based on something like a perfectly computationally predictive intellect, which, let’s face it, He has. Rather, His knowledge of our future choices is based on His presence to those choices. In other words, He knows because those are the choices we choose to make.

The saints are in heaven not on their own account, but as part of the Body of Christ, sharing Christ’s life.

Jesus is perfectly there in heaven: body, blood, soul and divinity. The saints are in heaven through Him.

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