Bishops, priests, deacons and the laity all have sins that they confess to the Lord at least once, that is before taking communion:
"I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen.
Of thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant: for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy kingdom. Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body."
In addition, going backwards in time, we have several opportunities each day to confess our sins:
- Fasting, morning and pre-communion prayers before the Divine Liturgy.
- Saturday Vespers with or without the Holy Mystery of Repentance.
- Friday morning and evening prayers plus fasting
- Thursday morning and evening prayers
- Wednesday morning prayers, Vespers with or without the Holy Mystery of Repentance plus fasting
- Tuesday morning and evening prayers
- Monday morning and evening prayers
- Sunday post-communion prayers
- Ad hoc confessions as one is aware of sinning.
So, there is really no question that we confess our sins. Rather the question is when we are to submit ourselves for the Holy Mystery of Repentance. The approach of Father Alexander (Schmemann) of blessed memory was that there is no fundamental difference between the clergy and the laity before the Holy Chalice and that the same requirements should apply across the board. Father Alexander strongly felt that it was a scandal to expect only the clergy not to submit to the Holy Mystery of Penance before each Divine Liturgy--that is, partaking of the Body and Blood of the Lord (why else would we be participating in the Divine Liturgy, the common work?). So, just as a bishop/priest/deacon submits to the confession guidelines of his father confessor, so must we. The guideline may be different for each one of us, but if there is a general guideline, it should not be different for clergy and laity. This sounds as if the requirements for the laity are relaxed; however, in actual practice, this approach brings the spiritual practices of the laity and clergy closer together. Put another way, the laity is expected to fast, pray and confess as regularly as the clergy. So, this is a more rigorous approach and not a more lax one.