What Does "death of the soul" mean?


403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul”. Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.

What Does “death of the soul” mean?


1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

An example, those doctors in the recent news who have performed so many abortions that are so hardened that when brought to trial, they have no remorse for what they have done and are actually “glad” to have done them. Doctor Gosnell is a prime example. Or criminals who can kill someone in cold blood and feel nothing afterwards. These are extreme examples, but illustrate the term quite well!

The footnotes to CCC 403 reference The Council of Trent DS 1512 (see link below):


Extract from that document:

"Adam’s sin has passed to all his descendants, that is, to all men and women as descendants of our first parents, and their heirs, in human nature already deprived of God’s friendship.

The Tridentine decree (cf. DS 1512) explicitly states that Adam’s sin tainted not only himself but also all his descendants. Adam forfeited original justice and holiness not only for himself, but also “for us” (nobis etiam).

Therefore he transmitted to the whole human race not only bodily death and other penalties (consequences of sin), but also sin itself as the death of the soul (peccatum quod mors est animae).

Here the Council of Trent uses an observation of St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans. The Synod of Carthage had already referred to it, repeating a teaching already widespread in the Church."

Thanks for Explainations. But I don’t understand what does it mean, yet!

OK, lemme try it another way.

Christian Baptism places us in a state of Grace. It “enlivens” our soul (meaning it gives it divine life - if we die in such a state, we are assured salvation).

But, while on earth, our spiritual life is mortal, just as our physical lives are mortal. There are things that can kill our bodies, and there are things that can kill our soul.

Injuries which can be assured of killing our bodies are called “mortal” injuries. Such as a gunshot to the heart, or decapitation of the head. Such injuries will ALWAYS cause death, so they are deemed “mortal” injuries (after the Latin word “mortis,” which means “leads to death.”)

We are born with live bodies, but dead souls. Christian Baptism gives life to our souls. But we ourselves can kill that life through mortal sin (unlike our bodies, nobody else can “kill” our soul - we alone “enjoy” that prerogative). This is what we mean by the “death of the soul.”

Fortunately, the Church has a “crash cart” for the soul. Unlike a “crash cart” used by medical professionals to revive a body, the Church’s “crash cart” ALWAYS works. The “crash cart” of the Church is called Confession/Absolution.

Death of the soul is to be separated from the source of life, our spiritual life-blood, God, Himself. That’s what Adam did for himself and the rest of humankind; by disobeying God he rejected His authority; by rejecting His authority he rejected His godhood; Adam no longer had a God for all practical purposes-he was his own “god”. Man is dead in this condition, in need of being “born again”, or " born from above", depending on the translation. And what accomplishes this new life in us is reconciliation with God, won by Christ via the Atonement, so that man may believe in and then commune with God again, His Spirit dwelling within. That’s essentially the New Covenant.

What are the results of the “death of the soul”?

Does it prevent human to be saved?

It means we’re already dead. That’s why we need the Savior. Nothing can stand between us and God the Father when we come to Him through Jesus.

Javid all metaphors limp to some extent as they say.
Physical death is irreversible but death of the soul is reversible in this life.

If we repent then God’s presence in our souls is re-established by Sanctifying Grave.
It re-animates the soul and should we die heaven is our eventual destination.
If we die unrepentant then it is not possible for heaven to be our destination.

The ultimate Death is loss of God/Heaven foever.

What is “Sanctifying Grave?”:confused:

It’s another name for the abode of the righteous dead.

Must be a new thing. You learn something new every day, or so says WNIJ Radio Dekalb, Illinois in their station breaks!:smiley:

Thanks, But we don’t born as sinners. Original sin is not mean we born as sinners. What does repent mean for a innocent one?

And I didn’t get a clear answer for this: Does “death of the soul” that Adam has transmitted to us, causes we can’t go inside heaven?

OK, lets take it to another level.
Previously we were talking about “death of the soul” in terms of personal sin.
(i.e. when we commit an offence of grave matter with full deliberation then we have committed a mortal sin which “kills the soul.” This is the meaning of “sin” in its deepest and most proper sense.

However “sin” is a very comprehensive word that also has a couple of more derived and “analogical” meanings (ie very similar yet significantly different in some fashion). So in addition to “personal sin” we can also talk about being in a “state of sin.”

This sort of sin is something we are guilty of not because we ourselves have sinned personally but because of our solidarity/association with another who did so. This is how original sin is to be seen. Yes, we are born sinners (ie separated from God) even though we did not sin personally.

Hence Adam committed a personal sin (which was a mortal sin because it denied him heaven and a relationship with God) but we contracted original sin. But the result is the same for both Adam and us - “death of the soul.”

It is not a matter of “unfairness” but of “solidarity” intrinsic in the transmission of human-life from Adam. For example think of village blood-feuds in rural Europe. Because of some original fight many generations ago two villages hate each other and the relationship has broken down. Simply by being born into that village one becomes guilty and out of relationship with the other village.

This concept of disadvantages transmitted by “solidarity” also works for advantages as well. Thus, God becoming a man (and pleasing his Father by his obedience unto death)meant he redeemed all the human race through the simple fact of his humanity.

And “repentence” from original sin (ie personally “taking hold” of the Redemption achieved in Christ) is effected through the faith of our parents in their presenting us to the Church for the gift of Baptism.

What is “Sanctifying Grave?”
It’s another name for the abode of the righteous dead.


I think that Blue meant to say “Sanctifying Grace” (not grave). The C and V are right next to each other, and spell-check would not have flagged the typo, since it’s a valid word.

That means Grace that sanctifies us (restores us to a state of Grace, in the context of this thread), such as the Grace of Baptism or Confession.

There is another form of Grace called “prevenient grace” which draws us to God, even if we do not yet know him. Prevenient Grace is a “spiritual hunger” but it alone cannot sanctify us.

Yes, that is what Blue meant to say. :slight_smile:

It just got its “mix talked up,”:smiley:

So, we can’t be saved with “death of the soul”, But by Baptism and in Lord Jesus, our soul will be alive and we can be saved. not?

So, What is it about persons lived before Lord Jesus and couldn’t be baptized?

CCC 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.” Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

CCC 634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

CCC 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

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