Given humans' fallible
memories, most probably can't ever be 100% certain they've confessed all sins
committed over the decade(s). However, please note the following...
* It is very good to confess venial sins, but it is only
strictly required that we confess mortal sins...
sins must be revealed to the priest. Venial sins, which do not separate us from
the grace of God, and into which we frequently fall, although they may be
usefully confessed, as the experience of the pious proves, may be omitted
without sin, and expiated by a variety of other means. Mortal sins, as we have
already said, are all to be confessed, even though they be most secret, or be
opposed only to the last two Commandments of the Decalogue. Such secret sins
often inflict deeper wounds on the soul than those which are committed openly
and publicly." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)
* It is grievously sinful to willfully
conceal a mortal sin in Confession and if someone does so, he or she has made a
sinful, worthless confession...
"It is a grievous
offence willfully to conceal a mortal sin in Confession, because we thereby tell
a lie to the Holy Ghost and make our Confession worthless." (Baltimore
"He who, through
shame or some other motive, willfully conceals a mortal sin in confession,
profanes the sacrament and is consequently guilty of a very great sacrilege."
(Catechism of St. Pius X)
* If one has unintentionally forgotten to
confess a mortal sin even though he or she prepared properly, the Confession is
still valid and the sins are forgiven...
"If without our
fault we forget to confess a mortal sin, our Confession is worthy, and the sin
is forgiven; but it must be told in Confession if it again comes to mind."
"He who through
pure forgetfulness does not confess a mortal sin, or a necessary circumstance,
makes a good confession, provided he has been duly diligent in trying to
remember it." (Catechism of St. Pius X)
"A person who has
forgotten to tell a mortal sin in confession may go to Communion before again
going to confession, because the forgotten sin was forgiven with those
confessed, and the confession was good and worthy." (Baltimore Catechism)
* At the end of confessing sins, adding "and all sins I
have forgotten" is a good practice (but it is not strictly required)
* If we later remember a mortal sin that we had forgotten
to confess, we are to confess it at our next Confession...
"If a mortal sin
forgotten in confession is afterwards remembered we are certainly bound to
confess it the next time we go to confession." (Catechism of St. Pius X)
* In certain cases (e.g. willfully concealing a mortal sin
or examining our consciences with "careless indifference"), Confession should be
made over again...
"He who has
willfully concealed a mortal sin in Confession must not only confess it, but
must also repeat [that is, confess again] all the sins he has committed since
his last worthy Confession." (Baltimore Catechism)
"One who has
willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession must, besides repeating [that is,
confessing again] all the sins he has committed since his last worthy
confession, tell also how often he has unworthy received absolution and Holy
Communion during the same time." (Baltimore Catechism)
"He who has
willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession, must reveal to his confessor the
sin concealed, say in how many confessions he has concealed it, and make all
these confessions over again, from the last good confession." (Catechism of St.
"But should the
confession seem defective, either because the penitent forgot some grievous
sins, or because, although intent on confessing all his sins, he did not examine
the recesses of his conscience with sufficient accuracy, he is not bound to
repeat his confession. It will be sufficient, when he recollects the sins which
he had forgotten, to confess them to a priest on a future occasion. It should be
noted, however, that we are not to examine our consciences with careless
indifference, or to be so negligent in recalling our sins as to seem as if
unwilling to remember them. Should this have been the case, the confession must
by all means be made over again." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)
* It is good to regularly (at least once per day) examine
one's conscience and make frequent acts of contrition...
"It is well and
most useful to make an act of contrition often, especially before going to sleep
or when we know we have or fear we have fallen into mortal sin, in order to
recover God's grace as soon as possible; and this practice will make it easier
for us to obtain from God the grace of making a like act at [the] time of our greatest
need, that is, when in danger of death." (Catechism of St. Pius X)
"They should all
be admonished frequently to examine their consciences, in order to ascertain if
they have been faithful in the observance of those things which God and His
Church require. Should anyone be conscious of sin, he should immediately accuse
himself, humbly solicit pardon from God, and implore time to confess and satisfy
for his sins. Above all, let him supplicate the aid of divine grace, in order
that he may not relapse into those sins which he now penitently deplores."
(Catechism of the Council of Trent)
* Sins forgotten and not directly confessed are still
forgiven with a good sacramental Confession, but it is required that we prepare
properly for Confession and not be negligent. We should perform a diligent
examination of conscience before Confession...
examination of conscience is a diligent search for the sins committed since the
last good confession." (Catechism of St. Pius X)
prepared properly for confession by an examination of conscience, by sorrow, and
by a purpose of amendment, I will go to make an accusation of my sins to the
confessor in order to get absolution." (Catechism of St. Pius X)
"Can. 988 §1 A
member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all
grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the
keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the
person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience. §2 It is
recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins." (1983
Code of Canon Law)
* In some cases, a 'general confession' may be necessary...
confession is the telling of the sins of our whole life or a great part of it.
It is made in the same manner as an ordinary confession, except that it requires
more time and longer preparation." (Baltimore Catechism)
confession (1) is necessary when we are certain that our past confessions were
bad; (2) it is useful on special occasions in our lives when some change in our
way of living is about to take place; (3) it is hurtful and must not be made
when persons are scrupulous." (Baltimore Catechism)
Note: Contact a good priest for information about and
assistance with a general confession.
For more on the
Sacrament of Penance, try
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