Difference Between Soul and Spirit?

Q. Is there a distinction between the soul and the spirit?

I.B., via email

A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

In one passage Scripture seems to distinguish “spirit” and “soul”: “May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 5:23). But we must make no sharp distinction between the two.

The human soul is “the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: ‘soul’ signifies the spiritual principal in man” (Catechism, No. 263). The word “spirit” points to the fact that we are created for “a supernatural end” (No. 367). The two terms are complementary.