What General Confession is NOT:
1. General Confession is NOT General Absolution.
2. General Confession is NOT saying, “I confess my life” with no detail other than that!
3. General Confession is NOT being scrupulous in trying to be more forgiven.
4. General Confession is NOT being scrupulous in trying to remember more sins just for the sake of remembering more sins that were, at any rate, already confessed.
5. General Confession is NOT the self-destruction of going over the same rubbish again and again.
What General Confession is really all about:
A General Confession is a brief overview of one’s sins during one’s lifetime, or since the last time that one has made a General Confession. No detail, just the kind, number and circumstances of whatever sins which you would like to present once again in Confession for the reason that you realize more clearly the greatness of the Lord’s love for us, and you have a more profound sorrow for sin BECAUSE of a greater love for Him. Sorrow for sin is a matter of love, even if one’s sin is already forgiven. The purpose of all this is THANKSGIVING. I’ve been such a sinner! I really know that more than ever. Because of that, I’m able to thank the Lord all the more for his goodness and kindness in his forgiveness. This is a matter of love and friendship with the Lord. IF one is looking to the goodness and kindness of the Lord in this way, it is a good idea to present even just one sin from the past that is already forgiven, but which is ever present in one’s mind, for instance, an abortion. There is a great deal of healing which goes on in Confession, if we participate in the Sacrament for reasons of love. General Confession, to whatever extent this practically turns out for whatever Confession (one sin or a whole lifetime) is a salutary exercise.
Who is and who is not ready to make a General Confession
It’s not for everyone. It’s not for the scrupulous. It’s not for those who are looking for a “better absolution”. It’s not necessary anyway. Some should and must avoid it.
It’s great for big events, like Confirmation, Marriage, entering Religious Life or the Seminary, being ordained to the diaconate or priesthood or episcopacy, going off on an extremely dangerous adventure, like the front lines of war, or even and especially a very deepened faith, before which one wants to lay one’s life before Jesus, frankly, totally, trusting in His great mercy.
Why there is confusion about all this:
1. People, including many priests, don’t know what Confession is all about. Some celebrate their goodness and that’s it. Some rationalize forever. Some confess tendencies, or weakness. All of that is just so much rubbish and an abuse of the Sacrament of Penance.
2. Some confuse psychology and the spiritual life. For such people, General Confession is counterproductive. They just don’t get the friendship with our Lord that is involved in a General Confession. Again, it is a matter of thanksgiving and of love for the goodness and kindness of our Lord.
3. Some confuse spiritual direction and Confession, which can be annoying to priests who have, say, a hundred people lined up for confession.