Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke
The advantages of general confession are thus briefly enumerated by St. Ignatius in his Book of the Exercises: (1) We gain greater fruit and merit on account of the deeper contrition with which we approach the Sacrament; (2) we are better able to realize the malice of sins committed; (3) we are in better dispositions for receiving holy communion, and we are more disposed to shun sin. Moreover, the Directorium of the Exercises, a work composed by a member of the Society of Jesus and edited by the General Claudius Aquaviva, adds the following observation : If the general confession offered no other advantage, the following fact would sufficiently recommend it; experience proves that men for the most part go to confession either without proper examination, or without the required contrition, or with but a weak purpose of amendment; the general confession comes in most opportunely to give peace of mind, to remove scruples, which sooner or later, or at least at the hour of death, come to torture the soul and expose it to the danger of losing eternal salvation.
Segneri also very earnestly recommends general confession. It is a very safe and useful plan to examine one's life thoroughly at least once, and to set it right by a general confession, and to keep up the practice at fixed intervals of a year, or even oftener, of making a general confession beginning from the last. The advantage of this practice is that, seeing all our faults and sins at a glance, we are filled with greater confusion and sorrow and are impelled to be more humble; besides the fear of God's justice will grow in us when we see our sins, past and present, hanging like a great mountain over us, so that we are compelled to cry out with Esdras — "Our sins are grown up even unto heaven." (Esdr. ix. 6.) And who does not see how difficult it is without such a confession to obtain that most priceless of blessings, peace of mind, at least if the frequent relapses into sin are due to a want of preparation? Oh, how many confessions are thought to be valid and are not so in reality!
Finally, the words of St. Alphonsus deserve a place here: "I advise every one who has not yet done so to confess all the sins which he has ever committed in his life, and I advise not only those who have made sacrilegious confessions by concealing mortal sins, or whose confessions have been invalid through want of previous examination of conscience or of true contrition, but those also who are anxious to begin a new life; for this purpose a general confession is very useful."