top of page



At St. John's, a priest is available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation every Saturday from 4pm-4:45pm and usually during weekend Masses. Confession times during Sunday Masses may occasionally cancelled due to priests traveling or covering Mass at another parish. Confessions are also available by appointment. Please contact the parish office at (301) 373-2281 to set up an appointment.


In the Archdiocese of Washington, children prepare for and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time. In order to properly prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, children should participate in regular religious education through the parish’s religious education program or by attending a Catholic school. Reception of First Reconciliation usually takes place in the second grade. However, preparation for the sacrament begins with participation in a religious education program one year prior to the sacramental year. Please contact the Religious Education Office at (301) 373-2281 or if you have a child who wishes to receive this beautiful sacrament.



- It is also called Confession or Penance.


- It consists of four parts: Confession, Penance, Act of Contrition, and Absolution.


"Penance" means doing a good work or saying prayers as a sign of your gratitude for God's mercy and willingness to make amends for the sins you have committed.

"Contrition" means being sorry for your sins.

"Absolution" means being forgiven.


- It is possible for the sacrament not to work properly if one of these parts is missing: for example, if the person confessing is not really sorry for his sins and intends to commit the same ones again.


- Only a priest has the authority to give absolution for sins. Jesus granted priests this authority when he said to the apostles, "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (Jn 20:23)


- There are two types of sins: mortal and venial.


Mortal sins involve "grave matter" (that is, they are serious) and "full knowledge and deliberate consent" (that is, one knows that they are seriously wrong and chooses to do them anyway).


Sins that are objectively mortal sins include murder (breaking the 5th commandment), stealing (7th commandment), lying under oath (8th commandment), adultery and fornication (6th commandment), blasphemy (2nd commandment), procuring or performing an abortion (5th commandment), using pornography (6th and 9th commandments), consulting fortune tellers or dabbling in paganism or the occult (1st commandment), drunkenness (5th commandment), and not worshipping God at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation (1st and 3rd commandments).


However, a person's guilt for a mortal sin may be lessened if he did not know that what he did was a sin or if he did not fully consent to the sin (for example, if he was coerced or pressured). These factors may also make his sin venial instead of mortal.


Venial sins involve less serious matter, imperfect knowledge, or lack of consent, but they are still sins and still represent a "falling short" of God's law. However, they do not need to be confessed to be forgiven. Provided that a person is really sorry for them, they are forgiven during the Penitential Rite of the Mass ("Lord, have mercy").


- One of the Precepts of the Catholic Church, binding on all Catholics, is to confess serious (i.e., mortal) sins at least once per year.


The Church recommends receiving the sacrament once per month.


The Church also recommends confessing venial sins as well as mortal sins: this can help strengthen you when you face temptation to repeat those venial sins.


- We are all in need of confession and forgiveness. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 Jn 1: 8-10)


- No matter what sins we have committed, God loves us and wants us to be reconciled to him. He has given us the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a great gift. Through the sacrament, we are healed, renewed, and brought back into communion with Him. Through the sacrament, He gives us special graces that allow us to change and lead better lives (though this won't necessarily happen overnight). So it isn't really right to look at the sacrament as a "requirement" or a "burden." It is really an opportunity, one that we should take as often as we can. It only costs a little bit of humility. And once we really commit to making confession a regular part of our lives, we will notice the difference, and so will people around us.

"Why should I confess to a priest?"




See the answer in this video

from Busted Halo (

"How do I know when I've committed a sin?"


Try an examination of conscience!

This list of questions will help you discern your sins. The USCCB offers several; you can pick the one that's right for you.

"What if I have other questions?"



Check out these additional resources from Busted Halo, Catholic Answers, and the USCCB 


bottom of page