Do you need to confess sins that you have already confessed?
If you have received absolution for these sins, then the answer is NO.
From the standpoint of confession, I believe the proper answer is “what sins?”
That would depend on the reason for the general confession. There are two reasons.
Probably the most common reason is because a person has been leaving a life of sin for a long time. In this case, you are required, to the best of your sincere recollection, to confess all mortal sins committed since your last good (valid) confession.
The other reason (I don’t know of any other reason) would be if you were making a major spiritual change in your life - such as entering a convent or monastery, etc. In this case I would imagine that it would be in accordance with the guidelines I was given when I did this. Look at your life and split it into a few divisions. E.g. In my case, as a cradle Catholic, I was advised to look at (a) from First Communion to Confirmation; (b) From Confirmation to Marriage; © From Marriage to the time the confession is being made. I was advised to confess the types of sin that I had committed in each of these stages. In this sort of general confession, it was a given that I had been regularly going to the Sacrament of Confession. This was because i was about to make a major step in the spiritual life. It is a very good start to this change, reviewing your past sins in preparation for what is prayerfully hoped to be a step up the spiritual ladder. I would imagine, though, that if someone deliberately did not include some serious sins in this confession, (because of embarrassment or any other reason) it could be invalid and sacrilegious!
So - it all depends on the reason for the confession.
I have only made one general Confession, right before I was Confirmed. I have read that it is suggested to make another general Confession before doing anything big in your life - getting married, entering religious life, etc. Some people do it once a year.
In a general Confession, you are (hopefully) recounting sins that have already been Confessed. It is not required to re-confess them, as though forgiveness hadn’t been already obtained; rather, these are things that have already been forgiven. You are basically rehearsing your life. Instead of coming every few weeks or months with a couple of venial sins (“I snapped at my mother, I procrastinated at work…”) you are bringing it all into focus. It can be a means of showing yourself to yourself and asking for more grace to help you to become a saint. It could also be a help to the priest so that he can give better advice after you Confession. (Don’t worry, he’s not writing this stuff down…:D)
One small point, and this must be correct because I did hear it from a [Catholic] priest. If you by intention leave one or more sins not mentioned in confession all confessions before are not valid, meaning, even if the priest absolve your sins they are not.
Such is regarding unconfessed mortal sins …not already confessed mortal sins. see response above.
Now of course if say sam committed murder and adultery and robbed a bank. And confessed everything but hid the adultery part…well sam would need to confess that hiding of the sin and those other sins again…
But if henry is wanting to simply confess again some already confessed and absolved mortal sins – say he is getting married and wants to confess all sins against chastity – but decides to leave out bank robberies for they were already confessed etc…well that is a different matter for he does not need to confess them again.
The idea of re-confessing sins (after a fashion) gives me a very bad feeling. Once the priest has absolved you, and God has forgiven you, we should move on. Rehashing them really feels like you don’t believe you were forgiven.
If you want to talk about tendencies towards certain types of sins, I think that’s fine. But, you shouldn’t be saying “In my 20’s I committed fornication on average once a month”, if those sins were already forgiven.
It may a bad feeling to some.
(one can though correct the feeling with the theological truths involved)
And for some it would not be recommended. And for some it ought to discouraged etc by their confessor.
But it is a very valid and good practice for many. A venerable practice in the Church.
Oh what a nice question. I see by the fact that you’ve only posted a few times, you’ve perhaps come here for this specific question. I am a convert and a regular confessor. I’ve gone to Confession almost every week since joining the Church quite a few years ago. I love going to Confession. I think it might be the only thing I’ve gotten right about being a Catholic. I’ve made several General Confessions so far and go for one each year now around my birthday. This is done with a purpose that for me is two fold - to remind myself of how much work I need to do on myself and remind myself of how much work I’ve done with God’s help through the years. I do work on my sins. I’m not perfect but I think we are all called to be Saints just like Mother Angelica says. So have some others. Without the Sacrament of Confession, Holiness isn’t possible. God makes it possible. I wonder why some Catholics I’ve met don’t go. It really is a beautiful thing when done correctly. Go! Go often. God died for you and this is the place (the Confessional) bar none where His atoning Death pays for you!