I am preparing to go to confession before the end of lent. It has been about 2 or 3 years. When I am looking back there is certain sin that I can’t remember if I committed or not. I know that I was tempted to commit this sin but I can’t actually remember if I did or not. Do I need to confess sins that I am doubtful that I committed?
I would ask your confessor exactly that, and he can tell you.
only *mortal sins *must be confessed (and in number and kind) (we are obliged to confess these once a year…but hopefully we confess any right away! and hopefully we never commit these …)
no venial sin needs be confessed. they can be forgiven in other ways …though it is good and recommended to confess them…at least some of them…
if one is doubtful than one had at the time --a grave matter, full knowledge and full consent. then one is NOT obliged to confess it.
if one is scrupulous or has a tendency towards scruples or has scruples in some degree then it is advised that one not confess a doubtful sin either a doubtful mortal or a doubtful venial sin.
if one has finds himself confessing doubtful things all the time …then it may be best not to. or he may find himself with scruples if not already…
if one is does not have yet a good formation in the Faith --it can be very good to confes it and thus speak with the priest about it and get more informed or advice.
(side note…and of course if it is a sexual sin (an action …that was done …thoughts can be mortal of course…but one can be tempted more often in this way without consent) --but one is not sure if all the three aspects were met --it can be particularly good to confess it and seek advice for this can be a tricky and difficult area and the matter in sexual sins is grave (lust, pornogrpic, fornication etc --things though against modesty are not neccesarily grave )…though one can not have full knowledge or full consent…)
AND IF SOMETHING IS DOUBTFUL --AND ONE DOES CONFESS IT, ONE NEEDS TO SAY IT IS *DOUBTFUL *…FOR IT IS NOT CERTAIN AND SHOULD NOT BE CONFESSED AS CERTAIN WHEN IT IS NOT…
So what needs be confessed strictly?
if mortal -yes.
If venial – nope.
if doubtful “sin” either doubtful “mortal” or doubtful at all …nope.
if one is lax -or in need of advice etc (see above) and it is a doubtful ‘mortal’ sin – it can be good to mention it–but as doubtful.
And it is recommended for someone with a normal conscience to confess “doubtful mortal sins”
if one is scrupulous or have a tendency etc that way-- and it is doubtful --it is advised not to.
Of course as mentioned…any doubtful sin that is confessed…one needs to say it was doubtful in some way…
From what you describe…I would recommend though that you confess it…saying that you are not sure etc…and that it was so long ago…
for you do not go often…
(if it was a grave matter)