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Summa Theologica Part IV (Tertia Pars) Part 170

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Objection 1: It would seem that deeds deadened by sin are not revived by Penance. Because just as past sins are remitted by subsequent Penance, so are deeds previously done in charity, deadened by subsequent sin. But sins remitted by Penance do not return, as stated above (Q. 88, AA. 1, 2). Therefore it seems that neither are dead deeds revived by charity.

Obj. 2: Further, deeds are said to be deadened by comparison with animals who die, as stated above (A. 4). But a dead animal cannot be revived. Therefore neither can dead works be revived by Penance.

Obj. 3: Further, deeds done in charity are deserving of glory according to the quantity of grace or charity. But sometimes man arises through Penance to lesser grace or charity. Therefore he does not receive glory according to the merit of his previous works; so that it seems that deeds deadened by sin are not revived.

_On the contrary,_ on Joel 2:25, "I will restore to you the years, which the locust ... hath eaten," a gloss says: "I will not suffer to perish the fruit which you lost when your soul was disturbed." But this fruit is the merit of good works which was lost through sin.

Therefore meritorious deeds done before are revived by Penance.

_I answer that,_ Some have said that meritorious works deadened by subsequent sin are not revived by the ensuing Penance, because they deemed such works to have passed away, so that they could not be revived. But that is no reason why they should not be revived: because they are conducive to eternal life (wherein their life consists) not only as actually existing, but also after they cease to exist actually, and as abiding in the Divine acceptance. Now, they abide thus, so far as they are concerned, even after they have been deadened by sin, because those works, according as they were done, will ever be acceptable to God and give joy to the saints, according to Apoc. 3:11: "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." That they fail in their efficacy to bring the man, who did them, to eternal life, is due to the impediment of the supervening sin whereby he is become unworthy of eternal life. But this impediment is removed by Penance, inasmuch as sins are taken away thereby. Hence it follows that deeds previously deadened, recover, through Penance, their efficacy in bringing him, who did them, to eternal life, and, in other words, they are revived. It is therefore evident that deadened works are revived by Penance.

Reply Obj. 1: The very works themselves of sin are removed by Penance, so that, by God's mercy, no further stain or debt of punishment is incurred on their account: on the other hand, works done in charity are not removed by God, since they abide in His acceptance, but they are hindered on the part of the man who does them; wherefore if this hindrance, on the part of the man who does those works, be removed, God on His side fulfills what those works deserved.

Reply Obj. 2: Deeds done in charity are not in themselves deadened, as explained above, but only with regard to a supervening impediment on the part of the man who does them. On the other hand, an animal dies in itself, through being deprived of the principle of life: so that the comparison fails.

Reply Obj. 3: He who, through Penance, arises to lesser charity, will receive the essential reward according to the degree of charity in which he is found. Yet he will have greater joy for the works he had done in his former charity, than for those which he did in his subsequent charity: and this joy belongs to the accidental reward.

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SIXTH ARTICLE [III, Q. 89, Art. 6]

Whether the Effect of Subsequent Penance Is to Quicken Even Dead Works?

Objection 1: It would seem that the effect of subsequent Penance is to quicken even dead works, those, namely, that were not done in charity. For it seems more difficult to bring to life that which has been deadened, since this is never done naturally, than to quicken that which never had life, since certain living things are engendered naturally from things without life. Now deadened works are revived by Penance, as stated above (A. 5). Much more, therefore, are dead works revived.

Obj. 2: Further, if the cause be removed, the effect is removed. But the cause of the lack of life in works generically good done without charity, was the lack of charity and grace, which lack is removed by Penance. Therefore dead works are quickened by charity.

Obj. 3: Further, Jerome in commenting on Agg. i, 6: "You have sowed much," says: "If at any time you find a sinner, among his many evil deeds, doing that which is right, God is not so unjust as to forget the few good deeds on account of his many evil deeds." Now this seems to be the case chiefly when past evil deeds are removed by Penance.

Therefore it seems that through Penance, God rewards the former deeds done in the state of sin, which implies that they are quickened.

_On the contrary,_ The Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:3): "If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

But this would not be true, if, at least by subsequent Penance, they were quickened. Therefore Penance does not quicken works which before were dead.

_I answer that,_ A work is said to be dead in two ways: first, effectively, because, to wit, it is a cause of death, in which sense sinful works are said to be dead, according to Heb. 9:14: "The blood of Christ ... shall cleanse our conscience from dead works." These dead works are not quickened but removed by Penance, according to Heb. 6:1: "Not laying again the foundation of Penance from dead works." Secondly, works are said to be dead privatively, because, to wit, they lack spiritual life, which is founded on charity, whereby the soul is united to God, the result being that it is quickened as the body by the soul: in which sense too, faith, if it lack charity, is said to be dead, according to James 2:20: "Faith without works is dead." In this way also, all works that are generically good, are said to be dead, if they be done without charity, inasmuch as they fail to proceed from the principle of life; even as we might call the sound of a harp, a dead voice. Accordingly, the difference of life and death in works is in relation to the principle from which they proceed. But works cannot proceed a second time from a principle, because they are transitory, and the same identical deed cannot be resumed. Therefore it is impossible for dead works to be quickened by Penance.

Reply Obj. 1: In the physical order things whether dead or deadened lack the principle of life. But works are said to be deadened, not in relation to the principle whence they proceeded, but in relation to an extrinsic impediment; while they are said to be dead in relation to a principle. Consequently there is no comparison.

Reply Obj. 2: Works generically good done without charity are said to be dead on account of the lack of grace and charity, as principles.

Now the subsequent Penance does not supply that want, so as to make them proceed from such a principle. Hence the argument does not prove.

Reply Obj. 3: God remembers the good deeds a man does when in a state of sin, not by rewarding them in eternal life, which is due only to living works, i.e. those done from charity, but by a temporal reward: thus Gregory declares (Hom. de Divite et Lazaro, 41 in Evang.) that "unless that rich man had done some good deed, and had received his reward in this world, Abraham would certainly not have said to him: 'Thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime.'" Or again, this may mean that he will be judged less severely: wherefore Augustine says (De Patientia xxvi): "We cannot say that it would be better for the schismatic that by denying Christ he should suffer none of those things which he suffered by confessing Him; but we must believe that he will be judged with less severity, than if by denying Christ, he had suffered none of those things. Thus the words of the Apostle, 'If I should deliver my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing,' refer to the obtaining of the kingdom of heaven, and do not exclude the possibility of being sentenced with less severity at the last judgment."

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QUESTION 90

OF THE PARTS OF PENANCE, IN GENERAL (In Four Articles)

We must now consider the parts of Penance: (1) in general; (2) each one in particular.

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether Penance has any parts?

(2) Of the number of its parts;

(3) What kind of parts are they?

(4) Of its division into subjective parts.

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FIRST ARTICLE [III, Q. 90, Art. 1]

Whether Penance Should Be Assigned Any Parts?

Objection 1: It would seem that parts should not be assigned to Penance. For it is the Divine power that works our salvation most secretly in the sacraments. Now the Divine power is one and simple.

Therefore Penance, being a sacrament, should have no parts assigned to it.

Obj. 2: Further, Penance is both a virtue and a sacrament. Now no parts are assigned to it as a virtue, since virtue is a habit, which is a simple quality of the mind. In like manner, it seems that parts should not be assigned to Penance as a sacrament, because no parts are assigned to Baptism and the other sacraments. Therefore no parts at all should be assigned to Penance.

Obj. 3: Further, the matter of Penance is sin, as stated above (Q.

84, A. 2). But no parts are assigned to sin. Neither, therefore, should parts be assigned to Penance.

_On the contrary,_ The parts of a thing are those out of which the whole is composed. Now the perfection of Penance is composed of several things, viz. contrition, confession, and satisfaction.

Therefore Penance has parts.

_I answer that,_ The parts of a thing are those into which the whole is divided materially, for the parts of a thing are to the whole, what matter is to the form; wherefore the parts are reckoned as a kind of material cause, and the whole as a kind of formal cause (Phys. ii). Accordingly wherever, on the part of matter, we find a kind of plurality, there we shall find a reason for assigning parts.

Now it has been stated above (Q. 84, AA. 2, 3), that, in the sacrament of Penance, human actions stand as matter: and so, since several actions are requisite for the perfection of Penance, viz., contrition, confession, and satisfaction, as we shall show further on (A. 2), it follows that the sacrament of Penance has parts.

Reply Obj. 1: Every sacrament is something simple by reason of the Divine power, which operates therein: but the Divine power is so great that it can operate both through one and through many, and by reason of these many, parts may be assigned to a particular sacrament.

Reply Obj. 2: Parts are not assigned to penance as a virtue: because the human acts of which there are several in penance, are related to the habit of virtue, not as its parts, but as its effects. It follows, therefore, that parts are assigned to Penance as a sacrament, to which the human acts are related as matter: whereas in the other sacraments the matter does not consist of human acts, but of some one external thing, either simple, as water or oil, or compound, as chrism, and so parts are not assigned to the other sacraments.

Reply Obj. 3: Sins are the remote matter of Penance, inasmuch, to wit, as they are the matter or object of the human acts, which are the proper matter of Penance as a sacrament.

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SECOND ARTICLE [III, Q. 90, Art. 2]

Whether Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction Are Fittingly Assigned As Parts of Penance?

Objection 1: It would seem that contrition, confession, and satisfaction are not fittingly assigned as parts of Penance. For contrition is in the heart, and so belongs to interior penance; while confession consists of words, and satisfaction in deeds; so that the two latter belong to interior penance. Now interior penance is not a sacrament, but only exterior penance which is perceptible by the senses. Therefore these three parts are not fittingly assigned to the sacrament of Penance.

Obj. 2: Further, grace is conferred in the sacraments of the New Law, as stated above (Q. 62, AA. 1, 3). But no grace is conferred in satisfaction. Therefore satisfaction is not part of a sacrament.

Obj. 3: Further, the fruit of a thing is not the same as its part.

But satisfaction is a fruit of penance, according to Luke 3:8: "Bring forth ... fruits worthy of penance." Therefore it is not a part of Penance.

Obj. 4: Further, Penance is ordained against sin. But sin can be completed merely in the thought by consent, as stated in the Second Part (I-II, Q. 72, A. 7): therefore Penance can also. Therefore confession in word and satisfaction in deed should not be reckoned as parts of Penance.

_On the contrary,_ It seems that yet more parts should be assigned to Penance. For not only is the body assigned as a part of man, as being the matter, but also the soul, which is his form. But the aforesaid three, being the acts of the penitent, stand as matter, while the priestly absolution stands as form. Therefore the priestly absolution should be assigned as a fourth part of Penance.

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Summa Theologica Part IV (Tertia Pars) Part 170 summary

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