It is not common to catechize about our understanding of the human person as a microcosm of creation, but this is nevertheless what the Church teaches. The diagram opposite brings out, I hope, the main features of the Church’s teaching.
There are three clear ‘orders‘ in the created world: material beings, human beings and spiritual beings. Material beings are wholly material and spiritual beings are wholly spiritual. The material world is not the same as the spiritual world. Material beings have very different characteristics from spiritual beings. Material beings are measurable, whereas spiritual beings have no matter that can be measured. Spiritual beings are not bound by time and space as material beings are, though they do operate in time and space. People often forget that not only the material world, but the spiritual world of angels, also, is created; it is not divine. Angels and devils are created beings just as stars and cats are created. These, of course, are the ‘visible and invisible’ created by God that we speak of in the Creed.
These two ‘orders of reality’, the material and the spiritual, are easier to describe than human beings. Human beings are not half material and half spiritual; they are not matter and spirit mixed up, or stirred well together. ‘The human person, created in the image of God, is at once corporeal and material’ (CCC 362).
Study chart included with this article.