In Confession--How Specific?


Is it O.K. to confess sins in general terms for example “I continue to have difficulty with managing anger” vs “I bopped somebody on the head”? The example of anger as well as others (i.e. not trusting God, not being satisfied with ones state in life, being selfish, etc.) can be the basis for other more specific sins occuring. Until God helps us deal with the underlying cause, the actions which come from them won’t go away.


Dear Seeking,

No! If someone hurts us and is then very general in apologizing about it, we might well wonder how sorry that person is. When we apologize, we are specific about what it is for which we are sorry so that the person knows that we are very aware of our hurtful action. All the more so should we be specific to the Lord as for what we are sorry. Of course, God knows fully what we have done, but WE need to remind ourselves of just what we are confessing in order to be fully repentant.

Going to confession is not like going to counselor. Our main purpose is not to analyze the reasons. We are going there to confess our sins—“I bopped someone on the head and….I….am……sorry.”

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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