What I got from reading this is that the Russian recension of Church Slavonic (церковнославянский язык) is probably not terribly difficult to understand, at least generally, for an educated Russian. However, it is most certainly not modern Russian and thus would require dedicated study to understand completely.
My question, then, is this: How are Russian Orthodox priests educated with regards to the Russian recension of Church Slavonic? Do they learn it in the same way one might learn Latin or Ancient Greek (though with more attention to pronunciation than those languages typically receive)--i.e., rigorously studying the grammar and vocabulary? Or are they mainly just taught how to correctly pronounce it, with comprehension being merely an afterthought?
I'm curious if the (majority of) priests are essentially just reciting these texts without necessarily comprehending them, or if they're actually fluent in the language and could, at least theoretically, read or compose religious new texts in it that they haven't memorized through repetition.
By extension, when they study scripture, do they read in Church Slavonic or modern Russian? Since services are in CS, I suppose one should assume the priests understand the language they're speaking, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to believe that they are simply reciting the prayers in CS but actually do all their Bible study in Russian.
If they actually do study the language's grammar and vocabulary and such in a rigorous manner, does anyone know what textbook(s) they use to do so? Thanks.