General Confession Anyone?

Recently I decided that I wanted to do a General Confession and I’ve been preparing myself using the St. Francis de Sales meditations found on the “Introduction to the Devout Life”. Even if I’ve been going to confession since I was 7 years old, and recently have started going as frequently as once a month, I still feel called to do a general confession as a sign of recommitment of my life to Christ and in reparation for any past confessions that may have not been done with the appropriate contrition, time devoted to examination of [FONT=‘Times New Roman’]conscience etc.[/FONT]

What has been your experience with General Confessions? Any thoughts or guidance?

General confessions? I am assuming that they are the same as General Absolutions…

If I have assumed correctly, they are highly illicit under the vast majority of circumstances, only permissible under circumstances of impending death, before a marriage, before ordination etc etc.

(if I am incorrect… please correct me)

And an add-on question:
When should one do a general confession?

Hey Nick,
A general confession is when one takes the opportunity to confess all of his/her sins from his/her entire life. It would be the same as a regular confession, but probably MUCH longer since one is confessing all of one’s sins. That’s all I know about it.

A General Confession is different than a general absolution.

Here is a definition I found:
A general confession is the telling of the sins of our whole life or a great part of it. It is made in the same manner as an ordinary confession, except that it requires more time and longer preparation.

Sorry for the confusion :slight_smile:

Ah i see,

No need to apologise :slight_smile:

The first time I did this was in the Episcopal Church at age 18 – my very first sacramental confession. Forty years later, I did it again when I came into the Catholic Church.

I prepared for six months (not the examen itself, but prayerful preparation and meditation on Scripture). I made the confession during a week of total solitude and silence at a hermitage. I started writing it at 10:00 a.m. one morning and wrote virtually non-stop for sixteen hours; took a brief nap and started writing again from about 5:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

That confession took two hours from the time I walked into the confessional.

It was the best two hours of my life.

I say: GO for it!

Here is from Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, Chapter 6:

The First Purification, Namely, From Mortal Sin

The first purification to be made is from sin;–the means whereby to make it, the sacrament of penance. Seek the best confessor within your reach, use one of the many little books written in order to help the examination of conscience.Read some such book carefully, examining point by point wherein you have sinned, from the first use of your reason to the present time. And if you mistrust your memory, write down the result of your examination. Having thus sought out the evil spots in your conscience, strive to detest them, and to reject them with the greatest abhorrence and contrition of which your heart is capable;–bearing in mind these four things:–that by sin you have lost God’s Grace, rejected your share in Paradise, accepted the pains of Hell, and renounced God’s Eternal Love. You see, my child, that I am now speaking of a general confession of your whole life, which, while I grant it is not always necessary, I yet believe will be found most helpful in the beginning of your pursuit after holiness, and therefore I earnestly advise you to make it. Not unfrequently the ordinary confessions of persons leading an everyday life are full of great faults, and that because they make little or no preparation, and have not the needful contrition. Owing to this deficiency such people go to confession with a tacit intention of returning to their old sins, inasmuch as they will not avoid the occasions of sin, or take the necessary measures for amendment of life, and in all such cases a general confession is required to steady and fix the soul. But, furthermore, a general confession forces us to a clearer selfknowledge, kindles a wholesome shame for our past life, and rouses gratitude for God’s Mercy, Which has so long waited patiently for us;–it comforts the heart, refreshes the spirit, excites good resolutions, affords opportunity to our spiritual Father for giving the most suitable advice, and opens our hearts so as to make future confessions more effectual. Therefore I cannot enter into the subject of a general change of life and entire turning to God, by means of a devout life, without urging upon you to begin with a general confession.


So it takes quite some time to prepare for this it seems.

Some people do it in a couple of hours.

From a pastoral point of view, really praying through this, through the Commandments and the Beatitudes – not necessarily with a pen in your hand but attentive to the Holy Spirit – it generally takes about 3 to six intense weeks, praying about 30 to 60 minutes a day.

Not to be done between masses.:wink:

:stuck_out_tongue: That’s not just a wry comment. Make an appointment with your priest and let him know what’s coming. One hour is probably a reasonable time to allow for it. The particulars should depend on your own needs (yes: your own pastoral needs, not the priest’s pre-conceived idea of how he likes to do this, or how long he thinks it should take or whether he thinks you should or should not bring notes, or whether he likes to manage the content by asking questions. This is your party: you are confessing to God and you are making your confession, not somebody else’s idea of what your confession should be. It could be an hour or 20 minutes.

I just did a general confession last month. I returned to the church earlier this year after having been away for 26 years. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it before I went.

I made an appointment with a priest I knew and it took about an hour. I made a list and took it with me so I wouldn’t forget anything.

It was one of the harder things I have done in my life, but well worth it.

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I was a Methodist. I converted to the Catholic Faith when I was 44. Imagine how long my first Confession took!!

it is not ironic to see these two things in a series in a sentance :slight_smile: hahaha

When I was younger I had never heard of “General Absolution”. What exactly is it? My parish offers it at Easter and Christmas time. I have never done it or attended one.

This belongs on another thread but I’ll jump in anyway.

I hope that you are a little confused about what is offered at Easter and Christmas. Some parishes have Penance Services, where people gather for a prayer service which directs the heart towards making a good confession. Priests are usually brought in from the outside in addition to the home boys. The drill includes handing out a brief form for examination of conscience, which you review privately during a period of silence. People go to confession individually to one of the priests and receive absolution, just they way you would if you showed up on Saturday afternoond during the regular hours for confession.

These are neither general confessions (i.e., life confessions) nor is general absolution (i.e., blanket coverage without individual confession of sins) given.

There have been abuses in some parishes, where general absolution has been given to whole congregations without requiring confession. Those absolutions are not valid. This is absolutely and utterly nothing but a rank abuse and a disservice to the faithful. If the bishop is not part of the problem, it needs to be reported to him. If he IS part of the problem you need to kick it up to the next level.

I took a list along but shredded it afterwards.

A professor of mine once made a suggestion that I really like. He said after confession, go outside and light it on fire. Then imagine that as the paper burns up and floats away that all of your sins are floating away with it.

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