General Confession

From “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales.

Having then gone through this course of meditations, approach your General Confession with humility, yet confidently; but do not allow yourself to be perplexed with fears. The scorpion who stings us is venomous, but when his oil has been distilled, it is the best remedy for his bite;—even so sin is shameful when we commit it, but when reduced to repentance and confession, it becomes salutary and honourable. Contrition and confession are in themselves so lovely and sweet-savoured, that they efface the ugliness and disperse the ill savour of sin.

Feast of Simon the Pharisee - Rubens

Feast of Simon the Pharisee – Rubens

Simon the leper called Magdalene a sinner, but Our Lord turned the discourse to the perfume of her ointment and the greatness of her love. If we are really humble, my daughter, our sins will be infinitely displeasing to us, because they offend God;—but it will be welcome and sweet to accuse ourselves thereof because in so doing we honour God; and there is always somewhat soothing in fully telling the physician all details of our pain.

The Confession -Giuseppe Molteni

The Confession -Giuseppe Molteni

When you come to your spiritual father, imagine yourself to be on Mount Calvary, at the Feet of the Crucified Saviour, Whose Precious Blood is dropping freely to cleanse you from all your sin. Though it is not his actual Blood, yet it is the merit of that outpoured Blood which is sprinkled over His penitents as they kneel in Confession. Be sure then that you open your heart fully, and put away your sins by confessing them, for in proportion as they are put out, so will the Precious Merits of the Passion of Christ come in and fill you with blessings.

Tell everything simply and with straightforwardness, and thoroughly satisfy your conscience in doing so. Then listen to the admonitions and counsels of God’s Minister, saying in your heart, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” It is truly God to Whom you hearken, forasmuch as He has said to His representatives, “Whoso heareth you, heareth Me.” Then take the following protest, as a summary of your contrition, having carefully studied and meditated upon it beforehand: read it through with as earnest an intention as you can make.

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14 Responses to General Confession

  1. John says:

    What a bizarre, or perhaps providential thing! Not only was I reading this book, but the very chapter as my email notified me of this posting !


  2. John says:

    As someone who has only just discovered this little book; the depth of these writings is inspiring for one preparing for a first general confession. Thinking I myself was prepared for my own first General Confession next week,, and then coming across the book, has in fact given me a whole new perspective on how to approach the subject, as one is encouraged not to just consider the sins we may have committed, as single or multiple events, but to look far deeper into what makes us actually tick, and define with enormous help and incite, the kinds of people we are, and to, as a consequence acquire an opportunity to face ourselves in a way we may not have done before. Yes the route cause of sin is evil, but these writings are so filled with the type of tools that can not but assist us to rebuild ourselves as stronger fortresses against the incursions of that evil. Truly inspiring. Thank you St Francis de Salles !


  3. JabbaPapa says:

    What a bizarre, or perhaps providential thing! Not only was I reading this book, but the very chapter as my email notified me of this posting !

    Yep, sounds like a Sign !!

    God Bless You 🙂

    Yes the [b]root[/b] cause of sin is evil

    Other way ’round — evil is its consequence.

    Lucifer did not sin because he was evil ; he is evil because he embraced sin.

    The root cause of sin is Error.


  4. toadspittle says:

    In Other Words, Sin is just us getting things wrong, Jabba?
    …Sounds reasonable enough. It fits in with some of my own thinking,
    We get things wrong on earth finitely – and pay for them infinitely.. Hmm. Particularly as “infinity” is a concept no finite person can, or will ever, get their head around.

    “Lucifer did not sin because he was evil ; he is evil because he embraced sin.”
    I find myself turning round many things in my own life in this fashion;
    “I don’t do sinful things because I’m stupid – I do stupid things because I’m sinful.”
    “We don’t desire to be immortal in order that we might know God – we desire to know God in order that we might be immortal.

    (Unamuno, more or less, the second example.)


  5. toadspittle says:

    What a load of tripe, Toad.


  6. kathleen says:

    Thanks John – and good to see you here again! 🙂

    Glad to hear this post has been helpful to you.
    It may be over three hundred years old, but St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction…” shines through with the holiness, piety and love for God of this great saint. His writings are so rich in colourful imagery and originality of thought, that this classic should be recommended reading for every Catholic IMO. And very encouraging (given the subject of the other post today 😉 ), like this gem:

    “We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.” – St. Francis de Sales

    By the way, will you be received into the Church this coming Easter vigil? Many prayers coming your way for this great day.


  7. John says:

    Thank you Kathleen 🙂 and it is lovely to be back. I have been writing “here and there” but it is sadly always a little bit hit and miss logging into CP&S. Something to do with WordPress I think, as I always encounter problems, but today was a “good” day !!. Indeed with regards to these writings of St Francis De Sales, It is strikes me as amazing at how they relate to us all as though they were written yesterday. It just shows that truth and right does not age and neither does it change!. In answer to you question, yes I am to be received this Easter. It has certainly been a memorable journey in every way ( all positives though ) and so to a new beginning. Who knows what Our Lord has planned for me next. I know he brought me to where I am now, it now remains to be seen what is in store !! :). I hope you will visit us at the Dome again soon ? and thanks so much for your prayers and good wishes !


  8. johnhenrycn says:

    John: so good to hear your faith formation has been successful, and the heartiest “welcome home” be yours from me. My similar trek 10 years ago was also a very positive one – although I wish this one instructor had not made a personal point of referring to the Holy Spirit as “She”. I would like to be an RCIA instructor someday, but that’s not something one asks for – the better way being to await an invitation. In the meantime, each year I give each confirmand a copy of this Rosary booklet movingly illustrated by the late Bradi Barth, all proceeds from the sale of which go to Aid To The Church In Need:


  9. johnhenrycn says:

    I went to Confession today, and it wasn’t a warm, touching experience. The priest seemed distant and unsympathtic – almost like a plumber cleaning out a clogged drain pipe liked he’d done thousands of times before. Very perfunctory. Very mechanical. 3 Hail Marys. And at the end, he shut the door on the window separating us with a definite thunk, as if to say – “Next!” This has happened to me before; but I’m not embarrassed, nor are my feathers ruffled when it does. No, my hair didn’t stand on end, nor did I experience a tingle down my spine like I sometimes do after Confession; but one thing new Catholics have to keep in mind is that priests have rotten days too, and are not always up to the task of listening to our litany of transgressions with sensitivity and concentration. A flat, uninspiring confession is still a valid one if we do it in a spirit of contriteness. So, I’m glad I can go to Mass tomorrow with a clean slate…well, except for the finger I gave to a driver on the expressway who cut off my lane change a couple of hours later; but that’s just a venial sin.


  10. John says:

    Hi Johnhenrycn, and thanks so much for your good wishes. Goodness have I heard some differing tales about confession. You might recall in the early days of my being here I did make mention of the fact that my first confession worried me greatly, and now it is imminent, there really isn’t much time to, let alone point in worrying, though I do hope I have a slightly better reception than the one you evidently just had !!

    At the risk of being “scrupulous “I have worked long and hard on it, on the assumption that a first General Confession will be in many ways different to anything that follows. I have committed most of my transgressions to paper – more in an attempt to gain better understanding of myself than anything else. and when I came to check my word count found I had written 25 pages ( more like a University assignment than a a confession ) !!, but the Francis de Sales book was largely responsible for that for better or worse – all the self analysis -. In any event, I feel it was worthwhile if only for it to show me what an utterly despicable person I really am !

    In any case, I am resigned to letting it all out ( not of course the full 25 pages !! ) next job is a distillation process and I do not have long !! My the Lord assist me in the task !


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    John, one doesn’t have to remember every sin committed in one’s past for First Confession to be complete. That would be impossible in any event. Which is not say that your aggressive examination of conscience is wrong. Far from it. But you will be reminded in due course of forgotten sins – even serious ones – that will jump out years later demanding remembrance. First Confesssion is not thereby any less effective or complete. Another thing: to confess a specific sin from one’s past does not mean that it is thereafter never to be confessed again. If your conscience continues to bring it to the forefront of your mind, it must be revisted until it is laid to rest.


  12. Brother Burrito says:

    Toad @28th March 17:53,

    The self-centered woman knelt in the confessional. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
    “What is it, child?”
    “Father, I have committed the sin of vanity. Twice a day I gaze at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I am the most beautiful woman who ever walked the face of the earth.”
    The priest turned, took a good look at the woman and said, “My dear, I have good news. That isn’t a sin – it’s only a mistake.”


  13. Brother Burrito says:

    From the same source:

    At dinner after church on Palm Sunday little Maria began chattering away about learning a new song in Sunday school about a cross-eyed bear named Gladly.
    It took her parents a while before realizing that the hymn Maria had been singing was really: “Gladly The Cross I’d Bear.”*

    *It’s a hymn called “Keep Thou My Way”, words by Fanny Crosby, music by Theodore E. Perkins:


  14. geoffkiernan says:

    Johnhenry: I have sometimes confused you with John. John tells us that he has been ‘writing’. Can he elaborate? Has he written and Published? I would be keen to read.
    BTW, ITADL, SLIR………. IMO….(In My Opinion) I’m getting better at this..


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