A week, I fear, of priests and prelates, beginning with the lowly vicar.
A vicarious pleasure is one that is experienced at second hand, it is the smiling elder brother of compassion (suffering with) and sympathy (suffering with). I once heard that back in the days of rationing, when you couldn't buy a good cigar, fellows used to go and watch Citizen Kane, just to see Orson Welles smoke.
Anyway, a vicar is a vicarious substitute for God. God isn't there in the flesh (being uncarnate) so he sends along his substitute.
The novel The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith includes this merry little rhyme:
When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?
The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom, is -- to die.
Which I would love to see reprinted as a response in an agony aunt column. T.S. Eliot had fun with it in The Waste Land. His version is, alas, more accurate.
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.
N.B. The vicariousness of vicars was pointed out to me by an erudite correspondent.