Re-confessing sins

Is it ever necessary to “reconfess” sins that have already been properly confessed and absolved in previous confessions?

I am reading Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis De Sales, and he recommends having a “general confession” going over all the sins from your past, since often regular confessions are full of errors.

Two questions I have:

  1. Should I worry about errors in past confessions? I am not aware of any.
  2. Do we need to re-confess sins previously confessed? I always assumed no, that we are supposed to move-on, and not dwell on past sins any more.


  1. No.
  2. No.

General confession used to be advised at rare times in life which marked a transition: being ordained, getting married, gravely ill. They could also be done in connection with a retreat, but should not be overused, especially if there is a danger of scrupulosity.

I think it’s in the section on starting out on the spiritual road. Part of the reason for this is so that we are aware of our past sins, how much we have offended God and to see how great is His mercy towards us. From this it may be a good way to start making a serious attempt at the Devout Life.

It can be a good idea when you are getting a new spiritual director so that s/he has an idea of your spiritual life. it may also be a bad idea at times.

This is not to be forgiven becasue your past sins were not. Hope that makes sense.

Introduction to the Devout Life is a wonderful book. St Francis de Sales was writing for lay people who did not have the training and knowledge that you likely do. Many people then only received enough training to make thier First Holy Communion and then whenever the Bishop was next by their parish, they were confirmed. They went to confession once a year or perhaps just 2 or 3 times a year and may have only received communion once a year. Obviously, there are still plenty of people like that!

However, if you have been attending confession regularly and have truly been remorseful for your sins, you do not need to give a general confession. That said, you would want to make an appointment for a general confession since it is likely to take longer than is expected at the usual confession time. You can call and explain to the priest why you want to do this and he will give you his advice about what he feels is best. Since he is your confessor, you will want to follow his advice.

These are some instances in which it might be important to make a general confession:
*]When you have been away from the Sacrament of Confession for a very long time and need to cover a long period of your life
*]When you know you have made a number of bad confessions (deliberately omitting mortal sins), and you know that the sacrament was invalid and you must re-cover a lot of ground
*]At a time of a spiritual milestone, point of conversion, etc. (e.g., returning to the Church after a long absence, starting to take your faith seriously after a period of lukewarmness, entering religious life, getting married, making an important retreat, etc.)
*]When you are in danger of death
General confessions should NOT be made:
*]Frequently or routinely
*]If you are scrupulous, unless directed to do so by your regular confessor who is familiar with your scrupulosity
Making a general confession of sins already absolved does not necessarily mean that you are failing to move on, or dwelling on past sins. As part of certain retreats, entry into religious life, etc., it can be a way of reviewing your spiritual progress, seeing the “big picture” of God working in your life, filling yourself with gratitude for the mercy He has shown in forgiving the sins of your past, renewing your resolution to avoid these sins in the future, etc. A general confession at the right time in your life can be a positive step in your spiritual life, IF you are not doing it for the wrong reasons (e.g., doubting God’s forgiveness of sins already absolved).

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