Summa - Supplement 60
We must now consider the degree of contrition: under which head there are three points of inquiry:
(1) Whether contrition is the greatest possible sorrow in the world?
(2) Whether the sorrow of contrition can be too great?
(3) Whether sorrow for one sin ought to be greater than for another?
Objection 1: It would seem that contrition is not the greatest possible sorrow in the world. For sorrow is the sensation of hurt. But some hurts are more keenly felt than the hurt of sin, e.g. the hurt of a wound. Therefore contrition is not the greatest sorrow.
Objection 2: Further, we judge of a cause according to its effect. Now the effect of sorrow is tears. Since therefore sometimes a contrite person does not shed outward tears for his sins, whereas he weeps for the death of a friend, or for a blow, or the like, it seems that contrition is not the greatest sorrow.
Objection 3: Further, the more a thing is mingled with its contrary, the less its intensity. But the sorrow of contrition has a considerable admixture of joy, because the contrite man rejoices in his delivery, in the hope of pardon, and in many like things. Therefore his sorrow is very slight.
Objection 4: Further, the sorrow of contrition is a kind of displeasure. But there are many things more displeasing to the contrite than their past sins; for they would not prefer to suffer the pains of hell rather than to sin. nor to have suffered, nor yet to suffer all manner of temporal punishment; else few would be found contrite. Therefore the sorrow of contrition is not the greatest.
On the contrary, According to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv, 7, 9), "all sorrow is based on love." Now the love of charity, on which the sorrow of contrition is based, is the greatest love. Therefore the sorrow of contrition is the greatest sorrow.
Further, sorrow is for evil. Therefore the greater the evil, the greater the sorrow. But the fault is a greater evil than its punishment. Therefore contrition which is sorrow for fault, surpasses all other sorrow.
I answer that, As stated above (Question , Article , ad 1), there is a twofold sorrow in contrition: one is in the will, and is the very essence of contrition, being nothing else than displeasure at past sin, and this sorrow, in contrition, surpasses all other sorrows. For the more pleasing a thing is, the more displeasing is its contrary. Now the last end is above all things pleasing: wherefore sin, which turns us away from the last end, should be, above all things, displeasing. The other sorrow is in the sensitive part, and is caused by the former sorrow either from natural necessity, in so far as the lower powers follow the movements of the higher, or from choice, in so far as a penitent excites in himself this sorrow for his sins. In neither of these ways is such sorrow, of necessity, the greatest, because the lower powers are more deeply moved by their own objects than through redundance from the higher powers. Wherefore the nearer the operation of the higher powers approaches to the objects of the lower powers, the more do the latter follow the movement of the former. Consequently there is greater pain in the sensitive part, on account of a sensible hurt, than that which redounds into the sensitive part from the reason; and likewise, that which redounds from the reason when it deliberates on corporeal things, is greater than that which redounds from the reason in considering spiritual things. Therefore the sorrow which results in the sensitive part from the reason's displeasure at sin, is not greater than the other sorrows of which that same part is the subject: and likewise, neither is the sorrow which is assumed voluntarily greater than other sorrows---both because the lower appetite does not obey the higher appetite infallibly, as though in the lower appetite there should arise a passion of such intensity and of such a kind as the higher appetite might ordain---and because the passions are employed by the reason, in acts of virtue, according to a certain measure, which the sorrow that is without virtue sometimes does not observe, but exceeds.
Reply to Objection 1: Just as sensible sorrow is on account of the sensation of hurt, so interior sorrow is on account of the thought of something hurtful. Therefore, although the hurt of sin is not perceived by the external sense, yet it is perceived to be the most grievous hurt by the interior sense or reason.
Reply to Objection 2: Affections of the body are the immediate result of the sensitive passions and, through them, of the emotions of the higher appetite. Hence it is that bodily tears flow more quickly from sensible sorrow, or even from a thing that hurts the senses, than from the spiritual sorrow of contrition.
Reply to Objection 3: The joy which a penitent has for his sorrow does not lessen his displeasure (for it is not contrary to it), but increases it, according as every operation is increased by the delight which it causes, as stated in Ethic. x, 5. Thus he who delights in learning a science, learns the better, and, in like manner, he who rejoices in his displeasure, is the more intensely displeased. But it may well happen that this joy tempers the sorrow that results from the reason in the sensitive part.
Reply to Objection 4: The degree of displeasure at a thing should be proportionate to the degree of its malice. Now the malice of mortal sin is measured from Him against Whom it is committed, inasmuch as it is offensive to Him; and from him who sins, inasmuch as it is hurtful to him. And, since man should love God more than himself, therefore he should hate sin, as an offense against God, more than as being hurtful to himself. Now it is hurtful to him chiefly because it separates him from God; and in this respect the separation from God which is a punishment, should be more displeasing than the sin itself, as causing this hurt (since what is hated on account of something else, is less hated), but less than the sin, as an offense against God. Again, among all the punishments of malice a certain order is observed according to the degree of the hurt. Consequently, since this is the greatest hurt, inasmuch as it consists in privation of the greatest good, the greatest of all punishments will be separation from God.
Again, with regard to this displeasure, it is necessary to observe that there is also an accidental degree of malice, in respect of the present and the past; since what is past, is no more, whence it has less of the character of malice or goodness. Hence it is that a man shrinks from suffering an evil at the present, or at some future time, more than he shudders at the past evil: wherefore also, no passion of the soul corresponds directly to the past, as sorrow corresponds to present evil, and fear to future evil. Consequently, of two past evils, the mind shrinks the more from that one which still produces a greater effect at the present time, or which, it fears, will produce a greater effect in the future, although in the past it was the lesser evil. And, since the effect of the past sin is sometimes not so keenly felt as the effect of the past punishment, both because sin is more perfectly remedied than punishment, and because bodily defect is more manifest than spiritual defect, therefore even a man, who is well disposed, sometimes feels a greater abhorrence of his past punishment than of his past sin, although he would be ready to suffer the same punishment over again rather than commit the same sin.
We must also observe, in comparing sin with punishment, that some punishments are inseparable from offense of God, e.g. separation from God; and some also are everlasting, e.g. the punishment of hell. Therefore the punishment to which is connected offense of God is to be shunned in the same way as sin; whereas that which is everlasting is simply to be shunned more than sin. If, however, we separate from these punishments the notion of offense, and consider only the notion of punishment, they have the character of malice, less than sin has as an offense against God: and for this reason should cause less displeasure.
We must, however, take note that, although the contrite should be thus disposed, yet he should not be questioned about his feelings, because man cannot easily measure them. Sometimes that which displeases least seems to displease most, through being more closely connected with some sensible hurt, which is more known to us.
Objection 1: It would seem that the sorrow of contrition cannot be too great. For no sorrow can be more immoderate than that which destroys its own subject. But the sorrow of contrition, if it be so great as to cause death or corruption of the body, is praiseworthy. For Anselm says (Orat. lii): "Would that such were the exuberance of my inmost soul, as to dry up the marrow of my body"; and Augustine [*De Contritione Cordis, work of an unknown author] confesses that "he deserves to blind his eyes with tears." Therefore the sorrow of contrition cannot be too great.
Objection 2: Further, the sorrow of contrition results from the love of charity. But the love of charity cannot be too great. Neither, therefore, can the sorrow of contrition be too great.
Objection 3: On the contrary, Every moral virtue is destroyed by excess and deficiency. But contrition is an act of a moral virtue, viz. penance, since it is a part of justice. Therefore sorrow for sins can be too great.
I answer that, Contrition, as regards the sorrow in the reason, i.e. the displeasure, whereby the sin is displeasing through being an offense against God, cannot be too great; even as neither can the love of charity be too great, for when this is increased the aforesaid displeasure is increased also. But, as regards the sensible sorrow, contrition may be too great, even as outward affliction of the body may be too great. In all these things the rule should be the safeguarding of the subject, and of that general well-being which suffices for the fulfillment of one's duties; hence it is written (Rm 12,1): "Let your sacrifice be reasonable [*Vulg.: 'Present your bodies . . . a reasonable sacrifice']."
Reply to Objection 1: Anselm desired the marrow of his body to be dried up by the exuberance of his devotion, not as regards the natural humor, but as to his bodily desires and concupiscences. And, although Augustine acknowledged that he deserved to lose the use of his bodily eyes on account of his sins, because every sinner deserves not only eternal, but also temporal death, yet he did not wish his eyes to be blinded.
Reply to Objection 2: This objection considers the sorrow which is in the reason: while the Third considers the sorrow of the sensitive part.
Objection 1: It would seem that sorrow for one sin need not be greater than for another. For Jerome (Ep. cviii) commends Paula for that "she deplored her slightest sins as much as great ones." Therefore one need not be more sorry for one sin than for another.
Objection 2: Further, the movement of contrition is instantaneous. Now one instantaneous movement cannot be at the same time more intense and more remiss. Therefore contrition for one sin need not be greater than for another.
Objection 3: Further, contrition is for sin chiefly as turning us away from God. But all mortal sins agree in turning us away from God, since they all deprive us of grace whereby the soul is united to God. Therefore we should have equal contrition for all mortal sins.
On the contrary, It is written (Dt 25,2): "According to the measure of the sin, shall the measure also of the stripes be." Now, in contrition, the stripes are measured according to the sins, because to contrition is united the purpose of making satisfaction. Therefore contrition should be for one sin more than for another.
Further, man should be contrite for that which he ought to have avoided. But he ought to avoid one sin more than another, if that sin is more grievous, and it be necessary to do one or the other. Therefore, in like manner, he ought to be more sorry for one, viz. the more grievous, than for the other.
I answer that, We may speak of contrition in two ways: first, in so far as it corresponds to each single sin, and thus, as regards the sorrow in the higher appetite, a man ought to be more sorry for a more grievous sin, because there is more reason for sorrow, viz. the offense against God, in such a sin than in another, since the more inordinate the act is, the more it offends God. In like manner, since the greater sin deserves a greater punishment, the sorrow also of the sensitive part, in so far as it is voluntarily undergone for sin, as the punishment thereof, ought to be greater where the sin is greater. But in so far as the emotions of the lower appetite result from the impression of the higher appetite, the degree of sorrow depends on the disposition of the lower faculty to the reception of impressions from the higher faculty, and not on the greatness of the sin.
Secondly, contrition may be taken in so far as it is directed to all one's sins together, as in the act of justification. Such contrition arises either from the consideration of each single sin, and thus although it is but one act, yet the distinction of the sins remains virtually therein; or, at least, it includes the purpose of thinking of each sin; and in this way too it is habitually more for one than for another.
Reply to Objection 1: Paula is commended, not for deploring all her sins equally, but because she grieved for her slight sins as much as though they were grave sins, in comparison with other persons who grieve for their sins: but for graver sins she would have grieved much more.
Reply to Objection 2: In that instantaneous movement of contrition, although it is not possible to find an actually distinct intensity in respect of each individual sin, yet it is found in the way explained above; and also in another way, in so far as, in this general contrition, each individual sin is related to that particular motive of sorrow which occurs to the contrite person, viz. the offense against God. For he who loves a whole, loves its parts potentially although not actually, and accordingly he loves some parts more and some less, in proportion to their relation to the whole; thus he who loves a community, virtually loves each one more or less according to their respective relations to the common good. In like manner he who is sorry for having offended God, implicitly grieves for his different sins in different ways, according as by them he offended God more or less.
Reply to Objection 3: Although each mortal sin turns us away from God and deprives us of His grace, yet some remove us further away than others, inasmuch as through their inordinateness they become more out of harmony with the order of the Divine goodness, than others do.
We must now consider the time for contrition: under which head there are three points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the whole of this life is the time for contrition?
(2) Whether it is expedient to grieve continually for our sins?
(3) Whether souls grieve for their sins even after this life?
Objection 1: It would seem that the time for contrition is not the whole of this life. For as we should be sorry for a sin committed, so should we be ashamed of it. But shame for sin does not last all one's life, for Ambrose says (De Poenit. ii) that "he whose sin is forgiven has nothing to be ashamed of." Therefore it seems that neither should contrition last all one's life, since it is sorrow for sin.
Objection 2: Further, it is written (1Jn 4,18) that "perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain." But sorrow also has pain. Therefore the sorrow of contrition cannot remain in the state of perfect charity.
Objection 3: Further, there cannot be any sorrow for the past (since it is, properly speaking, about a present evil) except in so far as something of the past sin remains in the present time. Now, in this life, sometimes one attains to a state in which nothing remains of a past sin, neither disposition, nor guilt, nor any debt of punishment. Therefore there is no need to grieve any more for that sin.
Objection 4: Further, it is written (Rm 8,28) that "to them that love God all things work together unto good," even sins as a gloss declares [*Augustine, De Correp. et Grat.]. Therefore there is no need for them to grieve for sin after it has been forgiven.
Objection 5: Further, contrition is a part of Penance, condivided with satisfaction. But there is no need for continual satisfaction. Therefore contrition for sin need not be continual.
On the contrary, Augustine in De Poenitentia [*De vera et falsa Poenitentia, work of an unknown author] says that "when sorrow ceases, penance fails, and when penance fails, no pardon remains." Therefore, since it behooves one not to lose the forgiveness which has been granted, it seems that one ought always to grieve for one's sins.
Further, it is written (Si 5,5): "Be not without fear about sin forgiven." Therefore man should always grieve, that his sins may be forgiven him.
I answer that, As stated above (Question , Article ), there is a twofold sorrow in contrition: one is in the reason, and is detestation of the sin committed; the other is in the sensitive part, and results from the former: and as regards both, the time for contrition is the whole of the present state of life. For as long as one is a wayfarer, one detests the obstacles which retard or hinder one from reaching the end of the way. Wherefore, since past sin retards the course of our life towards God (because the time which was given to us for the course cannot be recovered), it follows that the state of contrition remains during the whole of this lifetime, as regards the detestation of sin. The same is to be said of the sensible sorrow, which is assumed by the will as a punishment: for since man, by sinning, deserved everlasting punishment, and sinned against the eternal God, the everlasting punishment being commuted into a temporal one, sorrow ought to remain during the whole of man's eternity, i.e. during the whole of the state of this life. For this reason Hugh of St. Victor says [*Richard of St. Victor, De Pot. Lig. et Solv. 3,5,13] that "when God absolves a man from eternal guilt and punishment, He binds him with a chain of eternal detestation of sin."
Reply to Objection 1: Shame regards sin only as a disgraceful act; wherefore after sin has been taken away as to its guilt, there is no further motive for shame; but there does remain a motive of sorrow, which is for the guilt, not only as being something disgraceful, but also as having a hurt connected with it.
Reply to Objection 2: Servile fear which charity casts out, is opposed to charity by reason of its servility, because it regards the punishment. But the sorrow of contrition results from charity, as stated above (Question , Article ): wherefore the comparison fails.
Reply to Objection 3: Although, by penance, the sinner returns to his former state of grace and immunity from the debt of punishment, yet he never returns to his former dignity of innocence, and so something always remains from his past sin.
Reply to Objection 4: Just as a man ought not to do evil that good may come of it, so he ought not to rejoice in evil, for the reason that good may perchance come from it through the agency of Divine grace or providence, because his sins did not cause but hindered those goods; rather was it Divine providence that was their cause, and in this man should rejoice, whereas he should grieve for his sins.
Reply to Objection 5: Satisfaction depends on the punishment appointed, which should be enjoined for sins; hence it can come to an end, so that there be no further need of satisfaction. But that punishment is proportionate to sin chiefly on the part of its adherence to a creature whence it derives its finiteness. On the other hand, the sorrow of contrition corresponds to sin on the part of the aversion, whence it derives a certain infinity; wherefore contrition ought to continue always; nor is it unreasonable if that which precedes remains, when that which follows is taken away.
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not expedient to grieve for sin continually. For it is sometimes expedient to rejoice, as is evident from Ph 4,4, where the gloss on the words, "Rejoice in the Lord always," says that "it is necessary to rejoice." Now it is not possible to rejoice and grieve at the same time. Therefore it is not expedient to grieve for sin continually.
Objection 2: Further, that which, in itself, is an evil and a thing to be avoided should not be taken upon oneself, except in so far as it is necessary as a remedy against something, as in the case of burning or cutting a wound. Now sorrow is in itself an evil; wherefore it is written (Si 30,24): "Drive away sadness far from thee," and the reason is given (Si 30,25): "For sadness hath killed many, and there is no profit in it." Moreover the Philosopher says the same (Ethic. vii, 13,14; x, 5). Therefore one should not grieve for sin any longer than suffices for the sin to be blotted out. Now sin is already blotted out after the first sorrow of contrition. Therefore it is not expedient to grieve any longer.
Objection 3: Further, Bernard says (Serm. xi in ): "Sorrow is a good thing, if it is not continual; for honey should be mingled with wormwood." Therefore it seems that it is inexpedient to grieve continually.
On the contrary, Augustine [*De vera et falsa Poenitentia, work of an unknown author] says: "The penitent should always grieve, and rejoice in his grief."
Further, it is expedient always to continue, as far as it is possible, those acts in which beatitude consists. Now such is sorrow for sin, as is shown by the words of Mt 5,5, "Blessed are they that mourn." Therefore it is expedient for sorrow to be as continual as possible.
I answer that, We find this condition in the acts of the virtues, that in them excess and defect are not possible, as is proved in Ethic. ii, 6,7. Wherefore, since contrition, so far as it is a kind of displeasure seated in the rational appetite, is an act of the virtue of penance, there can never be excess in it, either as to its intensity, or as to its duration, except in so far as the act of one virtue hinders the act of another which is more urgent for the time being. Consequently the more continually a man can perform acts of this displeasure, the better it is, provided he exercises the acts of other virtues when and how he ought to. On the other hand, passions can have excess and defect, both in intensity and in duration. Wherefore, as the passion of sorrow, which the will takes upon itself, ought to be moderately intense, so ought it to be of moderate duration, lest, if it should last too long, man fall into despair, cowardice, and such like vices.
Reply to Objection 1: The sorrow of contrition is a hindrance to worldly joy, but not to the joy which is about God, and which has sorrow itself for object.
Reply to Objection 2: The words of Ecclesiasticus refer to worldly joy: and the Philosopher is referring to sorrow as a passion, of which we should make moderate use, according as the end, for which it is assumed, demands.
Reply to Objection 3: Bernard is speaking of sorrow as a passion.
Objection 1: It would seem that our souls are contrite for sins even after this life. For the love of charity causes displeasure at sin. Now, after this life, charity remains in some, both as to its act and as to its habit, since "charity never falleth away." Therefore the displeasure at the sin committed, which is the essence of contrition, remains.
Objection 2: Further, we should grieve more for sin than for punishment. But the souls in purgatory grieve for their sensible punishment and for the delay of glory. Much more, therefore, do they grieve for the sins they committed.
Objection 3: Further, the pain of purgatory satisfies for sin. But satisfaction derives its efficacy from the power of contrition. Therefore contrition remains after this life.
On the contrary, contrition is a part of the sacrament of Penance. But the sacraments do not endure after this life. Neither, therefore, does contrition.
Further, contrition can be so great as to blot out both guilt and punishment. If therefore the souls in purgatory could have contrition, it would be possible for their debt of punishment to be remitted through the power of their contrition, so that they would be delivered from their sensible pain, which is false.
I answer that, Three things are to be observed in contrition: first, its genus, viz. sorrow; secondly, its form, for it is an act of virtue quickened by charity; thirdly, its efficacy, for it is a meritorious and sacramental act, and, to a certain extent, satisfactory. Accordingly, after this life, those souls which dwell in the heavenly country, cannot have contrition, because they are void of sorrow by reason of the fulness of their joy: those which are in hell, have no contrition, for although they have sorrow, they lack the grace which quickens sorrow; while those which are in purgatory have a sorrow for their sins, that is quickened by grace; yet it is not meritorious, for they are not in the state of meriting. In this life, however, all these three can be found.
Reply to Objection 1: Charity does not cause this sorrow, save in those who are capable of it; but the fulness of joy in the Blessed excludes all capability of sorrow from them: wherefore, though they have charity, they have no contrition.
Reply to Objection 2: The souls in purgatory grieve for their sins; but their sorrow is not contrition, because it lacks the efficacy of contrition.
Reply to Objection 3: The pain which the souls suffer in purgatory, cannot, properly speaking, be called satisfaction, because satisfaction demands a meritorious work; yet, in a broad sense, the payment of the punishment due may be called satisfaction.
We must now consider the effect of contrition: under which head there are three points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the remission of sin is the effect of contrition?
(2) Whether contrition can take away the debt of punishment entirely?
(3) Whether slight contrition suffices to blot out great sins?
Objection 1: It would seem that the forgiveness of sin is not the effect of contrition. For God alone forgives sins. But we are somewhat the cause of contrition, since it is an act of our own. Therefore contrition is not the cause of forgiveness.
Objection 2: Further, contrition is an act of virtue. Now virtue follows the forgiveness of sin: because virtue and sin are not together in the soul. Therefore contrition is not the cause of the forgiveness of sin.
Objection 3: Further, nothing but sin is an obstacle to receiving the Eucharist. But the contrite should not go to Communion before going to confession. Therefore they have not yet received the forgiveness of their sins.
On the contrary, a gloss on Ps 50,19, "A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit," says: "A hearty contrition is the sacrifice by which sins are loosed."
Further, virtue and vice are engendered and corrupted by the same causes, as stated in Ethic. ii, 1,2. Now sin is committed through the heart's inordinate love. Therefore it is destroyed by sorrow caused by the heart's ordinate love; and consequently contrition blots out sin.
I answer that, Contrition can be considered in two ways, either as part of a sacrament, or as an act of virtue, and in either case it is the cause of the forgiveness of sin, but not in the same way. Because, as part of a sacrament, it operates primarily as an instrument for the forgiveness of sin, as is evident with regard to the other sacraments (cf. Sent. iv, D, 1, Question , Article : TP, Question , Article ); while, as an act of virtue, it is the quasi-material cause of sin's forgiveness. For a disposition is, as it were, a necessary condition for justification, and a disposition is reduced to a material cause, if it be taken to denote that which disposes matter to receive something. It is otherwise in the case of an agent's disposition to act, because this is reduced to the genus of efficient cause.
Reply to Objection 1: God alone is the principal efficient cause of the forgiveness of sin: but the dispositive cause can be from us also, and likewise the sacramental cause, since the sacramental forms are words uttered by us, having an instrumental power of conferring grace whereby sins are forgiven.
Reply to Objection 2: The forgiveness of sin precedes virtue and the infusion of grace, in one way, and, in another, follows: and in so far as it follows, the act elicited by the virtue can be a cause of the forgiveness of sin.
Reply to Objection 3: The dispensation of the Eucharist belongs to the ministers of the Church: wherefore a man should not go to Communion until his sin has been forgiven through the ministers of the Church, although his sin may be forgiven him before God.
Objection 1: It would seem that contrition cannot take away the debt of punishment entirely. For satisfaction and confession are ordained for man's deliverance from the debt of punishment. Now no man is so perfectly contrite as not to be bound to confession and satisfaction. Therefore contrition is never so great as to blot out the entire debt of punishment.
Objection 2: Further, in Penance the punishment should in some way compensate for the sin. Now some sins are accomplished by members of the body. Therefore, since it is for the due compensation for sin that "by what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented" (Sg 11,17), it seems that the punishment for suchlike sins can never be remitted by contrition.
Objection 3: Further, the sorrow of contrition is finite. Now an infinite punishment is due for some, viz. mortal, sins. Therefore contrition can never be so great as to remit the whole punishment.
On the contrary, The affections of the heart are more acceptable to God than external acts. Now man is absolved from both punishment and guilt by means of external actions; and therefore he is also by means of the heart's affections, such as contrition is.
Further, we have an example of this in the thief, to whom it was said (Lc 23,43): "This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise," on account of his one act of repentance.
As to whether the whole debt of punishment is always taken away by contrition, this question has already been considered above (Sent. iv, D, 14, Question , Articles ,2; TP, Question , Article ), where the same question was raised with regard to Penance.
I answer that, The intensity of contrition may be regarded in two ways. First, on the part of charity, which causes the displeasure, and in this way it may happen that the act of charity is so intense that the contrition resulting therefrom merits not only the removal of guilt, but also the remission of all punishment. Secondly, on the part of the sensible sorrow, which the will excites in contrition: and since this sorrow is also a kind of punishment, it may be so intense as to suffice for the remission of both guilt and punishment.
Reply to Objection 1: A man cannot be sure that his contrition suffices for the remission of both punishment and guilt: wherefore he is bound to confess and to make satisfaction, especially since his contrition would not be true contrition, unless he had the purpose of confessing united thereto: which purpose must also be carried into effect, on account of the precept given concerning confession.
Reply to Objection 2: Just as inward joy redounds into the outward parts of the body, so does interior sorrow show itself in the exterior members: wherefore it is written (Pr 17,22): "A sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones."
Reply to Objection 3: Although the sorrow of contrition is finite in its intensity, even as the punishment due for mortal sin is finite; yet it derives infinite power from charity, whereby it is quickened, and so it avails for the remission of both guilt and punishment.
Summa - Supplement 60