This is something I have been wondering for quite some time. Before communion every Sunday, the priest says "The Holy Mysteries are open to all members of canonical Orthodox churches who make regular confession". And then today in his sermon, the priest was talking about how we must make regular confession, because we must partake of the Eucharist every time we go to Divine Liturgy and that according to the canons of the church, you can be excommunicated for not doing this.
I don't recall 100%, but I think the canons speak of coming to the Liturgy and leaving early being banned; I don't remember if there is something about coming and not receiving. THe practice of coming but not receiving actually was the dominant Liturgical practice in the Orthodox Church for a number of centuries across the various local Churches; in many places you will still find that the priest will come out and say "With the Fear of God..." and then immediately turn around and say "Lord, save your people and bless your inheritence" and will go back into the Altar, almost without pause. This is a sad reality; on the one hand, it is good that people have the most reverance for Communion; on the other hand, Communion only exists to be partaken!!! Our teaching is that one should be ready to partake, and not to partake if you're not ready; but the addendum to this that many people forget is that the Church says you should keep yourself ready every day!
The answer to the next part will supplement this.
And we can't avoid taking communion by not going to Divine Liturgy either since he said the canons you can be excommunicated for missing more than three Sunday Divine Liturgies in a row if you are physically able to go to church.
If you are physically able to go to Church, but you decide not to, it is practically seen as if you have separated yourself from the BOdy of Christ; the excommunication would only formally recognize the split. The Church is the Body of Christ that is attempting to move towards Him and grow closer to Him; each individual is an integral part of this Body. Those who chose to remove themselves from the sacramental participation of the community have indeed said to the others that they don't think participation is necessary, or that they don't care for their salvation. Needless to say, the greater damage is the separation that the individual had done themselves, the excommunicaiton is secondary.
Of course, there is no such thing as automatic excommunications in the Orthodox Church; your spiritual father, parsih priest, or hierarch/synod would have to impose the punishment on you. If none of them do, then you're not excommunicated.
So my question is: What does "regular confession" mean? Every week? Every few weeks? Every few months? Or just during the fasting periods? Of course, I am still a catechumen and so I cannot yet go to confession...
Well, the definition of "regular confession" depends on which Liturgical tradition you go to. With the Greeks, it means frequently, like 1 a month or 1 every other month; in the Slavic traditions, it is almost a 1:1 ratio with the number of times you plan to receive communion, and normally it is almost immediately preceeding the Liturgy. Of course, these practices can get skewed by different social factors: the Greeks, when they came to this country, didn't have enough father confessors, so the practice of confession was almost completely lost. The priests have been working on this for a few decades now, but it is hard to get the older parishoners to see the spiritual benefits...