Is there a difference between a spirit and a soul?

Hey everyone. Is there a difference between a spirit and a soul?

Depends how you’re using the terms.

Generally speaking, a spirit is a complete immaterial being. God is a spirit; angels are spirits.

A soul, as the term is most often used, is the principle of life of a being that is at least partly material. A soul is incomplete without the material element (the body). Men have immortal, rational souls; plants and animals have simple mortal souls. Although men temporarily exist as souls without bodies, this is not our natural state, and we will recover our bodies at the general resurrection. Thus we are not “souls in bodies” but rather “soul and body.”

Now some writers (including biblical writers, and I think St. Teresa of Avila) seem to say that man has both a soul and a spirit; but you have to look at the context and see how exactly they are using the terms. By “spirit,” for example, they may mean what I define above as a soul. By “soul” they could mean the seat of the emotions, or some such thing.

Ah okay interesting. So a spirit is unembodied or non-corporeal while a soul is embodied and corporeal, right?

I don’t believe we have souls, I believe we are souls. Each soul is unique that’s what makes us different and marvelously made… Spirits are invisible but you know that they are there. In heaven, souls remain individual from each other even though they are spirit which we cannot see with our human eyes. They are like stars in the sky! God isn’t a spirit, God is spirit…

Almost right. The soul is not corporeal. Corporeal means flesh. The soul has a corporeal counterpart, i.e., the body.

Please explain the difference.

In my DRV Bible, our Lord is quoted as saying “God is a spirit…” (Jn. 4:24) – though I realize some translations leave out the article. Baltimore Catechism 3 (Q. 163) also says “God is a spirit.”

There is a difference in the sense that spirit is form and soul is particular to each human being…in atleast that is how I understand it.

I experienced 3 different mystic situations that I was not quite sure myself.

I read bible all day. When I woke up and opened my eyes at mid night, I saw the thin blanket of white light hovering above my body about a yard. It disappears immediately. I regarded it was probably my soul.

Second incident, I woke up in the early morning, just to witness a light image of my boss departing my body slowly. I unsure but think it is the spirit of my boss and I am scared to death about this. I quit my job a month later because I can not understand why some one else is inside my body!

After many years of meditations, I prayed and asked my guardian angel to show me how my soul looks like. At that night I saw the bright golden light inside my head and the cortex. I satisfy with this answer and discovery.

Again I can not understand clearly or explain these. :smiley:

Oh alright. Sorry about that stupid phrasing of mine. I realized my mistake after I posted it but I didn’t edit the post. :blush:

Yes, there is, or, rather, there was a very clear and precise distinction between those two terms. The word “soul” originally meant “mind.” That is to say, when the ancient Greeks talked about your soul they were referring very specifically to your cognition alone, to your thoughts and what was going through your head. The word “spirit” originally meant “the immaterial essence of a person,” that is, what we nowadays refer to as the soul. It’s confusing. If you’re reading the ancient Greeks or the early Christians the only way to really know for sure what they meant is to check the context, because at some point the definitions sort of switched with each other. But if you go back far enough the word soul was always a psychological term, and the word spirit was always a religious/spiritual/supernatural term.:slight_smile:

Don’t feel bad, Holly, even few priests could answer your question without resorting to all kinds of stammering, wishy washy vagueness!

Interesting! Thank you! Now I think I know why my neighbor thinks the soul is the mind. :slight_smile:

Colloquially speaking, my spirit is my gumption, my get-up-and-go, the drive behind my actions, that thing in me that embraces life. It can be broken. When a person’s spirit gets broken they become the poor in spirit Jesus speaks of. It happens. My soul is something else though. It came into being at my conception and will continue on after I’m dead. It spends Eternity with God in Heaven, (after a few push-ups in Purgatory though) and is united to my body in this life and will be re-united with my body at the resurrection of the dead. My spirit, to me animates my body but it isn’t Eternal like my soul.

That being said, there is plenty of blurring of the lines between spirit and soul and the word spirit can even be divinized: i.e.: the Holy Spirit. It depends upon the context of the place you find the word. You will find many cases in the writings of the Saints that switch soul for spirit and visa versa.

I find it interesting and it is worth noting in this thread that in the Magnificat of Mary, the Mother of God, she uses both words, soul and spirit: ** My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…** So, clearly they are two separate things each having a meaning personal to each and everyone of us. Personally I think Mary’s noting that her soul magnifies the Lord is prophetic in that her soul being Eternal and now with God along with her body, magnifies the Lord, even to this day, (think of a magnifying glass here) as in with Mary, all God’s graces are greater than* without Mary*, so she is still magnifying the Lord for us who seek Him through her intercession and prayers. The part about her spirit rejoicing in God, I share a little of the knowledge of that special time in her life when pregnant. That* is *when she uttered these timeless words and I, being a woman who has given birth actually remember that wonderful feeling of being pregnant and how my body liked it. I felt more alive than ever while carrying my daughter in my womb and so like Mary, my spirit within me was rejoicing, not certainly because I was bearing God, but because I was a woman and fulfilling God’s will for me at that time in my life, not to mention the hormones racing through my veins and elevating my mood. It was a wonderful time in my life.

Oh well. I’ve said too much. Keep in mind these are only my opinions and I’m no expert on anything except coffee and cinnamon toast.



From my understanding, the spirit is the remembrance of a person, whereas the soul is the future of a person. Therefore, the body is the present person.

And the goal in living is to make all three one in being with the Body and Soul of God by becoming one with His Spirit.
362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”229 Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God. (1146, 2332)
363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person.230 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,231 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man. (1703)
364 The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:232 (1004, 2289) Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.233
365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.
366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God—it is not “produced” by the parents—and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235 (1005, 997)

Note number 365 quoting the council of Vienna. The soul is the form [substantial form] of the body. This means the living body. (cf. Msgr. Glenn, Introduction to Philosophy pg 308.) The soul is the principle of life. Animals and plant have souls as well. Now, man has a spiritual soul, which animals and plants do not have and which continues in existence after death–again, the souls of animals and plants do not continue after death. So some souls are spiritual and some are not. Furthermore, angles are spirits, but they are not “souls,” as they have no body. The soul, prior to Descartes, was considered the substantial form of a living material substance.

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