St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Body, soul, and spirit?

Yeah, Redskins!!! Way to beat the Cowboys for the 5th time in 7 games!
Here are two recent questions from bloggers:

1)"When I hear a statement like, ‘his spirit will live among us,’ I ask myself the question- what is our spirit? I use to think the word was interchangeable with soul, but St. Paul clearly describes our being sanctified in our whole being as “body, soul and spirit.” So, what exactly is one’s spirit and how would it live among us? If a soul goes to Heaven, where does the spirit go?”

The comment from the New Jerusalem Bible says this about 1 Thess 5:23 where St. Paul refers to our “body, soul, and spirit”:

- “This is the only reference made by Paul to a tripartite division of body (see Rm 7:24), soul (see 1 Cor 15:44), and spirit (which can be taken in two ways: as the divine presence in a human being, giving new life in union with Christ, Rom 5:5, or more probably as the innermost depths of the human being, open and awake to the Spirit, see Rom 1:9). The accent is on the totality of the effects of the sanctifying action of God, 3:13; 4:3, the effect of his fidelity."

2) “About indulgences-- how does one find out how to do them? Is it like penance, which a priest gives after confession of sins? Do you go to a priest and ask him to assign them to you?”

The Church has provided a list of ways to gain plenary and partial indulgences. I have previously posted this list (see 4/1/08 post, “Understanding Indulgences”), but will do so again. Please click on the title of today’s post for the link will take you to a website that lists ways to gain plenary and partial indulgences. Many of the ways should be self-explanatory; others involve prayers that, if you’re not familiar with them, you can google to see how to pray them.

To clarify, the “penance” a priest gives to a penitent in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is similar, but not identical, to acts of penance to gain indulgences. Sacramental penance is mainly concerned with the forgiveness of our sins; penitential acts for indulgences are mainly concerned with making satisfaction for those sins.

Sacramental penance does involve satisfaction for our sins, but it merely represents the full satisfaction that we will need to make for our sins. Full satisfaction for sins usually takes place (martyrs would be the exception) in the temporal punishment of Purgatory.

We can begin the process now (“Purgatory on Earth”) through acts of penance to gain indulgences. Through these acts and by the Grace of God, we begin the process of making full satisfaction for our sins or the sins of others, thus removing temporal punishment for those sins.


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