Monday, January 23, 2012

On Making a General Confession

St. Francis de Sales instructing Visitation nuns

I'm re-reading St. Francis de Sales' "An Introduction to the Devout Life," and am discovering far more wisdom within this text than I did when I first read it decades ago.  I have already begun following St. Francis's advice: one of the gentle bishop's very first recommendations for those on the threshold of the devout life is to pray "heartily" for a spiritual guide, which I am doing.  While I expectantly await the appearance of my spiritual guide, I have decided to follow another of St. Francis's recommendations to beginners - the making of a General Confession for one's whole past life.   Here is St Francis on how to make a General Confession, and why doing so is good for us:

"Seek the best confessor that you can, take some one of the books prepared for the aid of conscience, read it carefully, and observe minutely wherein you have sinned from the earliest period up to the present time, and if you distrust your memory, write down what you discover.  Having thus examined and collected the sinful wounds of your conscience, detest them, and with you whole heart reject and abhor them by contrition . . . . I am now speaking of a General Confession of the whole past life, which although not always absolutely necessary, I still hold to be a most profitable beginning, and recommend it strongly .  . . . [I]t increases our self-knowledge, incites a healthy sorrow for our past sins, fills us with admiration of the patience and mercy of God, calms our heart, relieves our mind, excites in us good resolutions, enables our spiritual Father to guide us with more certainty, and opens our heart to speak fully and with confidence in our future Confessions." 

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.

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