There are a lot of helpful threads dealing with this subject here at CAF. Just try entering the word “masturbation” into the search engine in the upper RH corner of your page, and you should get a whole bunch of results. That should give you a little bit of an idea about how many people struggle on this one.
It’s important to be precise in wording things - particularly as they relate to judgement . It would not be correct to say :
Unconfessed sin can still be forgiven in the afterlife. This is actually one of the founding precepts on the dogma of Purgatory. Back in the Old Testament Judas Maccabees offered sacrifices for his own men who fell in battle because they had put their faith in amulets instead of in God:
“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”
“As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.”
If a soul persists in mortal sin and even at death remains unrepentant, then, the probability of being eternally lost is a possibility.
But while repenting and confessing are interconnected, they are not exactly the same. Fr. John Hardon, S.J. in his Modern Catholic Dictionarydefines repentance as :
Voluntary sorrow because it offends God, for having done something wrong, together with the resolve to amend one’s conduct by taking the necessary means to avoid the occasions of sin. To repent is to be sorry for sin with self-condemnation. (Etym. Latin repoenitere , to be very sorry, regret intensely.)
St Augustine says that even before we repent, God hears the cry of our heart. So don’t be fooled into thinking that “praying afterwards” doesn’t help : God hears every one of those prayers.
The Hail Mary is a prayer that can be prayed any time - including in the heat of temptation or battle, or after/during the realization that we are sinners . . . "Holy Mary , Mother of God, pray for us sinners now. . . "
(Sorry - have to leave now - will try to check in on the thread later today)