Simony?

This question could go several places I suppose, but my main concern is whether something is morally wrong and so I will place it here.

Some time ago I bought a St. Benedict medal intending to have it blessed. Well, to make a long story short my priest was reassigned and not replaced, and I have not have the opportunity or at least the nerve to find someone willing and able to give the proper blessing.

Now, I have been considering ordering a new medal from the Benedictines of Christ the King Priory in Nebraska. They state on their website that they bless their medals “according to the prescribed prayers and ritual”, which I assume means either the traditional or the 1980 blessing specifically for this medal (I don’t particularly care which). I assume this is done as a free service subsequent to purchase, simply for the spiritual benefit of the person buying the medal.

The thing is, I would never buy the medal if it were not for the blessing. I already have a St. Benedict medal, which cost me considerably more than this one. I do like some aspects if this medal better than the one I already have, such as the fact that the cross St. Benedict holds is easily identifiable as a cross (on mine it looks more like a rod or aspergillum). But there are other characteristics I like less. I would prefer a solid silver medal like the one I already have (solid just feels more “real” to me), but they do not offer one so I would have to settle for silver-coated bronze. Also I would feel more comfortable if they asked more money so I could feel I was also supporting the monastery or missions with the purchase, but they sell these on the cheep, apparently just covering cost, as a service.

I am afraid that, much as I want a blessed St. Benedict medal, getting one this way would be functionally equivalent to buying a blessing. Is there a better way to think about this, or should I just not buy the thing?

  1. The medals there are for donation not purchase.

  2. I imagine they are blessed* after *the donation is given and prior to being sent. (indeed there is sticker on envelope when they arrive that says “these medals are blessed” -I imagine such is placed after they are blessed before shipping…) --one may inquire. They are providing the medals to promote devotion to St. Benedict.

Do not intend to “pay” for any blessing but intend to give a donation for the medal and shipping (as their site says) and to “ask” them be blessed before sending them to you. And then set aside any concern.

  1. One can also of course ask a Priest to bless your current medal (which should be done). You may hand him this rite for simplicity: osb.org/gen/medal.html (rite towards the bottom).

Their website states:
We provide medals as a ministry to promote the devotion to Saint Benedict. Your donation to obtain a medal covers our cost and postage.
Seems pretty straightforward.
If you were to bring your existing medal to the monks in Nebraska, they would most assuredly bless it with no thought of asking you for a “fee”. They would not, however, reimburse you for your mileage. Nor will your priest reimburse you for the time and effort you spend to reach him, yet he would grant you the blessing without a charge. However your priest does expect you to support the Church in a reasonable fashion based on your ability.

The “blessing” is what the monks have to give you as a gift; the material of the sacramental is not what makes it a sacramental, and the material does have costs including postage.

John Martin

Oh wow, I think I cynically translated “donation” as “price” in my head without even thinking about it. Still it is a transfer of money, a remarkably small amount of money, in order to obtain the medal.

This rational makes sense to me, though I’m going to continue to pray about it and maybe look for any other options.

Any other thoughts? Also does anyone have any inside knowledge about this community and their missionary work? I’ve been considering donating to them in general, and decided to look at the medals they offer as a secondary thought.

If I goto the gift shop at a local Shrine and buy a medal intending to have it blessed afterwards by the Priest in the hallway waiting to bless things – such is not simony.

Read that together with the post I posted above…

I understand that, but my concern is my specific case in which there would be no money given (unless I decide to give an unrelated donation, but that’s a separate issue) except for the sake of obtaining the blessing.

Your not giving money for the sake of obtaining the blessing.

The money is not for the blessing.

If I drive to a monastery in order to buy even some medals–I am going there so they can sell me the medals and then bless them – and I spend money on gas and then spend money on the medals --and then have them blessed – I am not giving money for the sake of obtaining the blessing in what is meant by “simony”.

Fact you have one already has no bearing here.

I have plenty of them and I wanted an easy way to get some nice copper ones for friends and have them blessed – so I searched online and I got them from them – and I recall asking them to have them blessed. They came marked “blessed” with a sticker on the outside of the envelope that had the medals in it.

Give them a call --ask to talk with one of the Priests – give the donation for the medal and ask him to bless it.

If I choose to buy a medal at a monastery cause it is easier for me to then have them blessed – such is perfectly fine. Even if I already own an un-blessed medal.

Bookcat (me) is not going to encourage simony :wink:

Just give them a call (I “ordered” mine over the phone as I recall).

Now if they said – ok we are selling these fine St. Benedict medals – for $10 and if you add $5 we will have the Abbot bless them for you --that would a problem!

Are you envisioning a set of monks in Nebraska that are saying, “Hmm, we have the power to bless medals that people want to use in their lives… this is something we can market and make a killing and become rich by refusing blessings unless we get the price we set.”

Well, I just did a quick search on Bing for medals, and it is odd (in reference to this string) that pricing is very similar everywhere… why odd? because the Nebraska medals were the only ones which came blessed, and the others I searched for were from commercial jewelry sites. Why would monks practicing Simony not charge any more than material and shipping costs? Why wouldn’t they tack on their “fee” for the use of their “Spiritual Power” of granting blessing and grace? I mean, that is what Simony is, exacting a fee for Spiritual favors.

If we think like this, we would also not make tithes and offerings when at Mass, because we would be accusing the Church and the Priests of Simony. I am hoping you are not using this understanding when the collection plate comes around.

John Martin

To be clear, I am not in the least accusing the monks of simony. My concern is whether my specific, personal case would be the moral equivalent of simony because I would not be buying the medal except for the sake of obtaining the blessing.

Then again no one in their right mind buys a religious medal without the intention of getting it blessed, and it is really the blessed nature of the sacramental that we want in any case.

Ah, I see, since Simony is selling OR buying of a spiritual blessing you are concerned that you might be guilty of simony.

If that is the case, and simony were your intent, you would be wanting the medal so that your money would be the reason you got Benedict’s attention and aid.
You would, in effect, have gotten nothing for your money, because St. Benedict is fully capable of discerning the hearts intent to all who appeal to Christ through his intercession.
Persons practicing simony, whether buying or selling, destroy themselves by the sin. They fool themselves into a false understanding of God, of Grace, of Merit.

So, beginning your first prayers with the medal (if you choose to buy it), you might append
"St. Benedict, I appeal to you because I trust my God, my Savior, and you. Please hear because this trust surrounds the medal, and not just for the sake of the possession of the medal. It is my intention to fulfill the prayer of blessing on this medal where it was said to God: ‘May those who use them devoutly and earnestly strive to perform good works be blessed by you with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy life, and remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.
May they also with the help of your merciful love, resist the temptation of the evil one and strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in your sight.’ "
Then declare the Glory Be’s, pray the Hail Mary’s, etc.

I pray similar things to be straight-forward with God when I am unsure of my real intentions, because I know that we are complex in our reasonings.

What do you think?

John Martin

I have a related question and not actually a reply, at least in the sense that it relates to the proper blessing of the St. Benedict medal.

I recently received a medal as a gift from a friend. I took it to my parish priest to have it blessed and he blessed it and I am wearing it. He was not in when I delivered the medal to the church, so I didn’t hear the prayers that he used for the medal.

He is a Holy Cross priest and not a Benedictine priest. After reading about the specific prayers for this medal, I do not know if he blessed the medal properly. I would have to assume so since he is a priest and most certainly knows far more about this than I do, especially since it is now okay for priests who are not Benedictine to bless the medal.

May I wear the medal with the assumption that it has been properly blessed?

Thanks for your help - blessings - Dotsdots

In the exchange of merchandise, blessings are not transferred (they are not ‘enchanted items’) so you should not be going out of your way to buy a medal for this reason. This would be superstitious and heterodox thinking. You should be buying a medal for your own religious devotional purposes, and then get it blessed by a deacon or priest. You are the one that is blessed through using that item, which has been set apart for sacred use.

I severely doubt this is gravely sinful thinking on your part (people that are actually in grave sin probably would never show up at CAF in the first place to question any of their actions, because they are in obstinate and loathsome denial of everything they are doing) but it seems like a quirk that you ought to work out and pray upon. Fewer video games might help.

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