Simon the Scorcerer


#1

ACTS 8:18-24
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.
19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit
20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money!"
21 "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for you heart is not right in the sight of God
22 Repent therefore of this wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity
24 Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.

NKJV

Does this passage oppose confession to a priest? Peter told the guy to pray straight to God for forgiveness. I tried to make sure I read it in context. Also, I wonder why Simon turned around and asked Peter to pray for him instead? Why did he not want to pray? Did he think maybe Peter’s prayer would “carry more weight?” But that’s a secondary question. My real question is why Peter told Simon to pray himself.


#2

i take this as peter giving him a pennance. It is obvious that what he did wrong, and so Peter told simon to go home and pray. But that is biased and a warping of the litteral text.


#3

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.

SIMONY. A sacrilege that consists in buying and selling what is spiritual in return for what is temporal. In simony the person tries to equate material things, such as money, with spiritual things, such as divine grace, and treats the latter as though he or some other human being had full ownership of what really belongs to God. The term “simony” originated with the biblical account of Simon Magus, who sought to purchase from St. Peter the spiritual power derived from the imposition of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18). Simony includes both agreements that are illicit by divine law and those which the law of the Church forbids as greater protection and reverence for spiritual goods. Thus to promise prayers only in exchange for a certain sum of money is simony forbidden by divine (natural) law. To confer sacred orders or obtain some position of authority in the Church in return for money or its equivalent is simony forbidden by ecclesiastical law. When simony is against the divine law, it is always a grave sin. Its gravity in other cases depends on the serious nature of what is bought or sold, and on the degree of scandal given. (Etym. Latin simonia, after Simon Magus.)

Does this passage oppose confession to a priest?

No.

Peter told the guy to pray straight to God for forgiveness. I tried to make sure I read it in context.

Peter told Simon to look into his heart and repent of his sin. Simon Magus couldn’t go to confession to Peter because he had not yet been baptized into the Catholic faith.

Also, I wonder why Simon turned around and asked Peter to pray for him instead?

Simon was convicted by the Holy Spirit of his sin, and he wisely sought intercession from Peter.

My real question is why Peter told Simon to pray himself.

Peter read the soul of Simon and understood that it was “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity”. Simon was demonically bound because he had been involved in the demonic craft. Peter was telling him that he needed to repent of this wickedness and become a Christian. By repenting of his sin and receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, Simon would be freed from his diabolical bondage.


#4

Matt 16_18,

Thanks for your reply, but Simon appears to have already been a Christian when this happens. When you go back a little further in chapter 8, this is what you see.

ACTS 8:9-13
9 But there was a certain main called Simon, who previously practiced scrcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great.
10 whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying "This man is the great power of God"
11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time
12 But when they believed Phillip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized
13 Then Simon himself also believed: and when he was baptized he continued with Phillip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

So he was already a baptized Christian when Peter told him to pray to God for forgiveness.


#5

It does not conflict with confession because the sacrament of penance always requires one to pray to God for forgiveness. Hence, the “Act of Contrition.” You cannot receive God’s forgiveness and remain distant from Him. Reconciliation and growing closer to God are one and the same thing. You cannot be reconciled with God and at the same time refuse to speak to Him, no matter if the priest has executed absolution. Absolution alone is not the sacrament.


#6

Does NOT confessing your sins oppose these passages?

Jn. 20:22-23 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Mt. 16:16-19 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


#7

[quote=Curious]ACTS 8:18-24
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.
19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit
20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money!"
21 "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for you heart is not right in the sight of God
22 Repent therefore of this wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity
24 Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.

NKJV

Does this passage oppose confession to a priest? Peter told the guy to pray straight to God for forgiveness. I tried to make sure I read it in context. Also, I wonder why Simon turned around and asked Peter to pray for him instead? Why did he not want to pray? Did he think maybe Peter’s prayer would “carry more weight?” But that’s a secondary question. My real question is why Peter told Simon to pray himself.
[/quote]

Obviously, confession is a prayer! Plus, the point he was making was that the man was in sin for trying to bribe the apostles. Also, remember the man said “Pray to the Lord for me…” in otherwords this man repented and confessed to Peter. Peter became his intercessor. Simon’s penance was to pray and change his ways. Notice how after that part in the scripture the story ends and a new narrative begins. This shows that Peter did absolve him of his sins, otherwise, Peter would’ve said something like “No, it is not I that must pray, but you must pray.”

Plus, it doesn’t mean that a prayer for forgiveness will not absolve you of your sins. You can attain forgiveness with just a personal prayer, which is the case in grave circumstances. However, you can never be completely sure. Confession gaurantees your forgiveness if you do the penance after word, and you can’t recieve communion unless you confess grave sin. It’s a matter of making sure.


#8

There is a question if Simon had received the Sacrament of Baptism from Phillip. See the commentary on Acts 8:9-19 by Killian McDonnell and George T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Evidence from the First Eight Centuries, second revised edition, pp 31-33, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.


#9

Decent answers guys, thanks. The gist of what I’m hearing from you all is this: “No the passage doesn’t contradict confession to a priest as prayer to God (the Act of Contrition for example) is included in the whole confession experience.”

That makes sense. But now I’m perturbed by this statement.

You can attain forgiveness with just a personal prayer, which is the case in grave circumstances. However, you can never be completely sure. Confession gaurantees your forgiveness if you do the penance after word, and you can’t recieve communion unless you confess grave sin. It’s a matter of making sure.

I recognize the value in confession to a priest and I do not think it’s wrong. However, I just can’t accept the fact that God forgiving you directly is something you can never be sure of, ESPECIALLY in grave circumstances. I


#10

[quote=Curious]Decent answers guys, thanks. The gist of what I’m hearing from you all is this: “No the passage doesn’t contradict confession to a priest as prayer to God (the Act of Contrition for example) is included in the whole confession experience.”

That makes sense. But now I’m perturbed by this statement.

I recognize the value in confession to a priest and I do not think it’s wrong. However, I just can’t accept the fact that God forgiving you directly is something you can never be sure of, ESPECIALLY in grave circumstances. I
[/quote]

**In such a case, you’re not 100% certain you’re completely forgiven unless 1) either an angel, saint, or Jesus himself tells you while you’re still alive 2) you died and went to purgatory or heaven. Confession gaurantees the forgiveness since Jesus promised this to his apostles: **

Jn. 20:22-23 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”


#11

I recognize the value in confession to a priest and I do not think it’s wrong. However, I just can’t accept the fact that God forgiving you directly is something you can never be sure of, ESPECIALLY in grave circumstances.

Does the voice of God come down from Heaven and say “Yup, you’ve been perfectly contrite, you’re forgiven,”?

Of course not, but in Confession you hear the words of forgiveness by someone with the authority, given by Jesus, to forgive sins. You have no reason to doubt because you’ve heard it with your own ears directly. That’s the point that’s being made.


#12

What do you mean by “grave circumstances”? The Catholic Church teaches that as soon as one repents of sin, that God immediately forgives the sin. That teaching does not mean that under ordinary circumstances that the sinner can be reconciled to God and the Church without receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If one commits mortal sin, one should repent and ask God’s forgiveness and then seek to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as possible. But if it is physically impossible to receive this Sacrament, one should have no doubt about the mercy of God.**Catechism of the Catholic Church

1484** “Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession.”


#13

Ghosty and others hit on it. As Catholics we believe:

The excercise of the Church’s power to forgive sins is a judicial act. (De fide.)–Ott

Christ as sole mediator of justice establishes a lower court (so to speak) in the apostles and their successors. When one goes to confession, they are pleading guilty and thowing themselves on the mercy of the court. When the priest grants absolution it is like a court ruling that no eternal punishment shall be meted out. Here’s the rub: Our Lord will never overturn any of these rulings because he promised he would accept them. This is mind-boggling good news. :thumbsup:

Scott


closed #14

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