When is it appropriate to make a general confession?


I have gone to confession at different intervals in my life, and somewhat more regularly in the past 5-7 years. Nonetheless, I have been thinking of making a general confession. Some general questions:

-Is it appropriate to make a general confession, when I’ve already been going to confession and more recent sins are forgiven, along with those of one’s past life?

-How does one prepare for, and make a general confession, especially when sins can be so long ago?

-How does one actually confess a specific occasion of sin from the past, if it’s of the same type (species) of sin as already confessed? How do we distinguish this particular incident, from a different incident already confessed?

  • If I think I may have confessed a sin, but am not sure if I did, should I confess it anyway?

-When is it appropriate to make a general confession? I have heard that one should make a general confession not more than once in your life, while I have read elsewhere that one should consider doing it every 10 years.

Thank you!

Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 829. What is a general confession?
A. 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.

Q. 830. When should a General Confession be made?
A. A general confession:

  1. Is necessary when we are certain that our past confessions were bad;
  2. It is useful on special occasions in our lives when some change in our way of living is about to take place;
  3. It is hurtful and must not be made when persons are scrupulous.

There is no hard and fast rule as to when to make a general confession. It should be a rather rare occurrence to guard against any idea that prior confession(s) did not absolve one’s sins.

It is sometimes helpful for some individuals in certain situations that would be too difficult to parse when certain events took place and whether they had confessed certain sins or not.

In your situation I am not quite sure of what benefit a general confession would be. If you have been going regularly and confessing any known mortal sins then your past sins have assuredly been absolved. However, if perhaps, you are about to undergo some major life change then it might be of benefit.

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.