How do we explain the craving for luxury and its justification in the Church? It is not uncommon, right?
Well, we may all agree that it is not okay, is it? After all, people in the Church did not fall down from the moon, but came from the ordinary environment, from the crowd, so one should not be surprised. You cannot even judge them. Unfortunately, in many cases the Orthodoxy is represented by just the superficial side which is the cult aspect: the religious service and its ceremonial side. People forget that this is not the point of Orthodoxy at all.
The essence of Orthodoxy is that people should learn how to fight their passions, of which we have plenty. It is for us to learn not to be annoyed, not to hate, not to envy, not to be conceited, not to be proud. Our goal is to be healed because these are illnesses of the soul. The rest is superfluous, we only need it as a helping hand. It can be a hindrance, too. In particular, the thing you mentioned is actually a hindrance.
There is a phenomenon in psychology known as apperception. What is it? A gray stone appears black on a white background, but white on a black background. So, we look at the clergy against the white background, because we know the Christian teaching that speaks about holiness. We look at priests who are mostly gray, en masse, like the rest of us. However, we look at their behavior against the white holy background of Christianity. Hence, their actions seem terrible to us, oh… We start to say aha, aha, and despise them, although we look at exactly the same actions that people who don’t belong to the Church and think, “Yes, of course, it doesn’t look good”, but they don’t look too terrible against the dark background, either.
We sometimes raise the bar on what priests should be like too high. They are people just like us. They also have passions, attractions, desires, goals, and so on. When we see these things done by a priest, we are really disconcerted by them because he is supposed to teach about other things. Secular people don’t teach, but priests do, and that’s why we are outraged. In fact, we should understand that we are all infected with those passions, and so are priests. So what can we say about them? You can regret that, unfortunately, their lives are not in line with their words. Regrettably. If you wish, show them some generosity. That’s all. But don’t be surprised or shocked, “How can that priest preach one thing from the pulpit and do something else?”
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds