What does it mean the Catholic Church says we are created in the image of God?

Hey everyone. What does the Catholic Church mean when the Church says that we are created in the image of God? How does being created in the image of God make us different from animals?

Good question. There are so many wonderful ways to understand how and why we are created in the image of God.

Animals reflect the beauty and love of God. Humans being in the image of God means that we have a both a spiritual and material nature. Being spiritual in the image of God, we can share in God’s life. (CCC, 355-356)

I believe this is a deep question. However, fundamentally, we are created to understand His glory; the meaning and value of Love as His divine essence and the values such as compassion, mercy, justice etc as being reflections of His essence in His creations. Our immortal soul and His will for us to join with Him as our eventual natural home are all parts of this likeness.
There is so much more to a fuller understanding of this glorious gift but it takes a greater mind than mine to even start the discussion.
What we understand as Natural Law are all facets of this likeness, and our knowledge of right and wrong are signposts to our identity as God’s children, a right given to us in the sacrifice of Christ, Glory to His name.
The more we seek identity in our nature the happier we we can become. The closer we snuggle up to our Father in doing His will, the closer to our true nature we will become.

It means we have an immortal soul, a spiritual soul that has intellect and will (knowing and loving). Our spiritual soul and its immortality images God. Our destiny is union with God in the Beatific Vision.

Animals have materials souls, not spiritual souls. They are not immortal souls. They do not have intellect and will.

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