When Does The Person Begin?

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"Each One of Us is an Icon of the Beginning"

What is the significance of this for the individual person?

What emerges from all this is that each one of us is a unique act of God.  There is an irreducible individuality of the person who is both created and therefore comes into existence and is yet a real expression of the common humanity which we have been given, and which we transmit as parents from the beginning which we are given in Adam and Eve.  In other words, our physical integrity, our physical, psycho-sociological and spiritual unity, is a unity which is manifestly evident in the sign of our bodily singularity.  Thus the mystery of our spiritual identity, created from nothing by God, but created in relation to, as it were, our co-created corporeality (which is also the work of God entrusted to man and woman as husband and wife), makes our bodily integrity a sign of the transcendent dignity and mystery of the fact that each of us "is alone" the one and only person that each one of us is.  It is possible, therefore, that we imitate God in precisely this: the uniqueness of God as the Being who Is, has made each one of us to be a singulary social creature: a singular being to the extent that a creature can be that is also and characteristically a member of the human family.  The "I" that I am is not the "I am" that God Is, but in some imitative sense each one of us is made to be as unique without, at the same time, our uniqueness destroying all possibility of communion with others and with God.  This is indeed pre-eminently true of the uncreated Blessed Trinity: each Person of the Blessed Trinity is unutterably and uniquely individual while at the same time incomparably 'social.'

In conclusion, there is both a radical beginning of my life which recapitulates the creation from nothing of the beginning of creation, and there is the incarnation of my soul94 on its coming into existence, such that it cannot be said to have been in existence before the union of egg and sperm, but rather comes into existence at the moment of that beginning we call conception; and, secondly, the absolute individuality of the soul is mirrored in the unique inheritance, as it were, of the body.

94 Cf. FC, art 11, page 19.    Back

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