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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] Out. Para. 1/2 SUPPLEMENT (XP): TO THE THIRD PART OF THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS GATHERED FROM HIS COMMENTARY ON BOOK IV OF THE SENTENCES (QQ[1] -99) OF THE PARTS OF PENANCE, IN PARTICULAR, AND FIRST OF CONTRITION (THREE ARTICLES)
      • Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] Out. Para. 2/2
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Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] Out. Para. 2/2

Under the first head there are three points of inquiry:

(1) Whether Contrition is suitably defined?

(2) Whether it is an act of virtue?

(3) Whether attrition can become contrition?


Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether contrition is an assumed sorrow for sins, together with the
purpose of confessing them and of making satisfaction for them?

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that contrition is not "an assumed sorrow for sins,
together with the purpose of confessing them and of making satisfaction
for them," as some define it. For, as Augustine states (De Civ. Dei xiv,
6), "sorrow is for those things that happen against our will." But this
does not apply to sin. Therefore contrition is not sorrow for sins.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, contrition is given us by God. But what is given is not
assumed. Therefore contrition is not an assumed sorrow.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, satisfaction and confession are necessary for the
remission of the punishment which was not remitted by contrition. But
sometimes the whole punishment is remitted in contrition. Therefore it is
not always necessary for the contrite person to have the purpose of
confessing and of making satisfaction.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, stands the definition.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated in Ecclus. 10:15, "pride is the beginning of
all sin," because thereby man clings to his own judgment, and strays from
the Divine commandments. Consequently that which destroys sin must needs
make man give up his own judgment. Now he that persists in his own
judgment, is called metaphorically rigid and hard: wherefore anyone is
said to be broken when he is torn from his own judgment. But, in material
things, whence these expressions are transferred to spiritual things,
there is a difference between breaking and crushing or contrition, as
stated in Meteor. iv, in that we speak of breaking when a thing is
sundered into large parts, but of crushing or contrition when that which
was in itself solid is reduced to minute particles. And since, for the
remission of sin, it is necessary that man should put aside entirely his
attachment to sin, which implies a certain state of continuity and
solidity in his mind, therefore it is that the act through which sin is
cast aside is called contrition metaphorically.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

In this contrition several things are to be observed, viz. the very
substance of the act, the way of acting, its origin and its effect: in
respect of which we find that contrition has been defined in various
ways. For, as regards the substance of the act, we have the definition
given above: and since the act of contrition is both an act of virtue,
and a part of the sacrament of Penance, its nature as an act of virtue is
explained in this definition by mentioning its genus, viz. "sorrow," its
object by the words "for sins," and the act of choice which is necessary
for an act of virtue, by the word "assumed": while, as a part of the
sacrament, it is made manifest by pointing out its relation to the other
parts, in the words "together with the purpose of confessing and of
making satisfaction."

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

There is another definition which defines contrition, only as an act of
virtue; but at the same time including the difference which confines it
to a special virtue, viz. penance, for it is thus expressed: "Contrition
is voluntary sorrow for sin whereby man punishes in himself that which he
grieves to have done," because the addition of the word "punishes"
defines the definition to a special virtue. Another definition is given
by Isidore (De Sum. Bono ii, 12) as follows: "Contrition is a tearful
sorrow and humility of mind, arising from remembrance of sin and fear of
the Judgment." Here we have an allusion to the derivation of the word,
when it is said that it is "humility of the mind," because just as pride
makes the mind rigid, so is a man humbled, when contrition leads him to
give up his mind. Also the external manner is indicated by the word
"tearful," and the origin of contrition, by the words, "arising from
remembrance of sin," etc. Another definition is taken from the words of
Augustine [*Implicitly on Ps. 46], and indicates the effect of
contrition. It runs thus: "Contrition is the sorrow which takes away
sin." Yet another is gathered from the words of Gregory (Moral. xxxiii,
11) as follows: "Contrition is humility of the soul, crushing sin between
hope and fear." Here the derivation is indicated by saying that
contrition is "humility of the soul"; the effect, by the words, "crushing
sin"; and the origin, by the words, "between hope and fear." Indeed, it
includes not only the principal cause, which is fear, but also its joint
cause, which is hope, without which, fear might lead to despair.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Although sins, when committed, were voluntary, yet when we
are contrite for them, they are no longer voluntary, so that they occur
against our will; not indeed in respect of the will that we had when we
consented to them, but in respect of that which we have now, so as to
wish they had never been.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Contrition is from God alone as to the form that quickens
it, but as to the substance of the act, it is from the free-will and from
God, Who operates in all works both of nature and of will.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Although the entire punishment may be remitted by
contrition, yet confession and satisfaction are still necessary, both
because man cannot be sure that his contrition was sufficient to take
away all, and because confession and satisfaction are a matter of
precept: wherefore he becomes a transgressor, who confesses not and makes
not satisfaction.


Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether contrition is an act of virtue?

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that contrition is not an act of virtue. For
passions are not acts of virtue, since "they bring us neither praise nor
blame" (Ethic. ii, 5). But sorrow is a passion. As therefore contrition
is sorrow, it seems that it is not an act of virtue.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, as contrition is so called from its being a crushing, so
is attrition. Now all agree in saying that attrition is not an act of
virtue. Neither, therefore, is contrition an act of virtue.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Nothing but an act of virtue is meritorious. But
contrition is a meritorious act. Therefore it is an act of virtue.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Contrition as to the literal signification of the word,
does not denote an act of virtue, but a corporeal passion. But the
question in point does not refer to contrition in this sense, but to that
which the word is employed to signify by way of metaphor. For just as the
inflation of one's own will unto wrong-doing implies, in itself, a
generic evil, so the utter undoing and crushing of that same will implies
something generically good, for this is to detest one's own will whereby
sin was committed. Wherefore contrition, which signifies this, implies
rectitude of the will; and so it is the act of that virtue to which it
belongs to detest and destroy past sins, the act, to wit, of penance, as
is evident from what was said above (Sent. iv, D, 14, Q[1], A[1]; TP,
Q[85], AA[2],3).

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Contrition includes a twofold sorrow for sin. One is in the
sensitive part, and is a passion. This does not belong essentially to
contrition as an act of virtue, but is rather its effect. For just as the
virtue of penance inflicts outward punishment on the body, in order to
compensate for the offense done to God through the instrumentality of the
bodily members, so does it inflict on the concupiscible part of the soul
a punishment, viz. the aforesaid sorrow, because the concupiscible also
co-operated in the sinful deeds. Nevertheless this sorrow may belong to
contrition taken as part of the sacrament, since the nature of a
sacrament is such that it consists not only of internal but also of
external acts and sensible things. The other sorrow is in the will, and
is nothing else save displeasure for some evil, for the emotions of the
will are named after the passions, as stated above (Sent. iii, D, 26,
Q[1], A[5]; FS, Q[22], A[3], ad 3). Accordingly, contrition is
essentially a kind of sorrow, and is an act of the virtue of penance.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Attrition denotes approach to perfect contrition, wherefore
in corporeal matters, things are said to be attrite, when they are worn
away to a certain extent, but not altogether crushed to pieces; while
they are said to be contrite, when all the parts are crushed [tritae]
minutely. Wherefore, in spiritual matters, attrition signifies a certain
but not a perfect displeasure for sins committed, whereas contrition
denotes perfect displeasure.


Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether attrition can become contrition?

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that attrition can become contrition. For
contrition differs from attrition, as living from dead. Now dead faith
becomes living. Therefore attrition can become contrition.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, matter receives perfection when privation is removed.
Now sorrow is to grace, as matter to form, because grace quickens sorrow.
Therefore the sorrow that was previously lifeless, while guilt remained,
receives perfection through being quickened by grace: and so the same
conclusion follows as above.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Things which are caused by principles altogether
diverse cannot be changed, one into the other. Now the principle of
attrition is servile fear, while filial fear is the cause of contrition.
Therefore attrition cannot become contrition.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, There are two opinions on this question: for some say
that attrition may become contrition, even as lifeless faith becomes
living faith. But, seemingly, this is impossible; since, although the
habit of lifeless faith becomes living, yet never does an act of lifeless
faith become an act of living faith, because the lifeless act passes away
and remains no more, as soon as charity comes. Now attrition and
contrition do not denote a habit, but an act only: and those habits of
infused virtue which regard the will cannot be lifeless, since they
result from charity, as stated above (Sent. iii, D, 27, Q[2], A[4]; FS,
Q[65], A[4]). Wherefore until grace be infused, there is no habit by
which afterwards the act of contrition may be elicited; so that attrition
can nowise become attrition: and this is the other opinion.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: There is no comparison between faith and contrition, as
stated above.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: When the privation is removed from matter, the matter is
quickened if it remains when the perfection comes. But the sorrow which
was lifeless, does not remain when charity comes, wherefore it cannot be
quickened.

Aquin.: SMT XP Q[1] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

It may also be replied that matter does not take its origin from the
form essentially, as an act takes its origin from the habit which
quickens it. Wherefore nothing hinders matter being quickened anew by
some form, whereby it was not quickened previously: whereas this cannot
be said of an act, even as it is impossible for the identically same
thing to arise from a cause wherefrom it did not arise before, since a
thing is brought into being but once.





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