Dignity of the Human Person

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 355-84:

  • The human person occupies a unique place in creation.
  • Made in God’s image, and composed of both body and soul, we unite in ourselves the spiritual and material worlds; God therefore wills our human nature to be a union of body and soul.
  • Because God has so designed us, we cannot properly view ourselves as spirits who are merely trapped in the flesh; our bodies are integral to who we are as human beings.
  • God chose to create human beings as male and female, in perfect equality as persons; at the same time, the complementarity of male and female serves to reflect God’s perfection.
  • Accordingly, man and woman are created to be a communion of persons, and to collaborate with God in the transmission of life.
  • This collaboration involves the direct action of God, who alone creates each one of our souls; parents contribute their physical substance, but they do not produce their children’s souls.
  • Each of us is called to enter into God’s own life, to give Him a personal response of faith and love that no one else can give in our stead.
  • Since every human being is a child of the Father, we are all truly brothers and sisters; recognizing this profound unity binding the entire human family, we are to show our love for all and our solidarity with all.
  • God’s primordial plan was for us to be in harmony with Him, at peace within ourselves, with each other, and with all of creation.
  • This state of original justice existed in the beginning, but as the account of Genesis reveals, it was destroyed by the sin of our first parents.

Live Your Faith

The truth that each human person – from the microscopic embryo on up – is made in God’s image, and that God in His love has fashioned our souls, should convince us of the dignity of the human person, and the sanctity of human life.

We must dedicate ourselves to building a culture that welcomes and upholds life, while in conscience opposing ideologies that seek to cheapen or destroy life.

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Creation

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 279-301, 337-49:

  • God created the entire cosmos out of nothing; all that exists, whether spiritual or material, owes its origins, life, and existence to God.
  • Perfectly sufficient within Himself, God was under no necessity or constraint to create.
  • But out of His own sovereign freedom, He chose to create the cosmos, to show forth His glory by making creatures who could share in His life, goodness, and love.
  • As St. Thomas Aquinas observed, “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened His hand.”
  • Creation is thus the first step toward God’s covenant of love with humankind; indeed, He made the cosmos as a gift for us.
  • The creation accounts in Genesis are not intended as a scientific textbook; the sacred author is not trying to explain precisely how God created everything.
  • Rather, the language of Scripture conveys the essential theological point: that creation has its origin from God, and that it is good in itself because it reflects the order, beauty, and wisdom of the Creator.
  • As a result, the Church welcomes scientific advances that can teach us about the nature of the physical world, and its fascinating intricacies that inspire wonder and admiration.
  • While science plays a vital role in analyzing the material world, it cannot properly address the profound spiritual questions that have long absorbed the human mind.
  • The Church has defended the truth about creation from various heresies over the centuries, upholding its goodness and testifying to God’s continuing care for His creatures.

Live Your Faith

Has the beauty of the natural world helped us to draw near to God, praising Him for its extravagant variety? Or do we sometimes take creation for granted, and miss out on God’s elaborate gift to us? Let us examine our attitudes toward creation and resolve to be better stewards of the world God has entrusted to us.