Saturday, April 26, 2008

Simony of a Different Sort

Simony is a term which refers to the sale of sacraments and church offices. The sin recieved it's name from Simon Magus, also known as the Father of All Heresies, a magician who converted to Christianity, but afterwards desired the gifts of the Spirit which the bishops possessed and attempted to buy the office.

A man named Simon used to practice magic in the city and astounded the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, paid attention to him, saying, "This man is the 'Power of God' that is called 'Great.'" They paid attention to him because he had astounded them by his magic for a long time, but once they began to believe Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptized. Even Simon himself believed and, after being baptized, became devoted to Philip; and when he saw the signs and mighty deeds that were occurring, he was astounded.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was conferred by the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me this power too, so that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive the holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your money perish with you, because you thought that you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no share or lot in this matter, for your heart is not upright before God. Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your intention may be forgiven. For I see that you are filled with bitter gall and are in the bonds of iniquity." Simon said in reply, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me." Acts 8:8-25

That was then, this is now. Meet the new Simons.
From the Telegraph:

Roman Catholic schools are refusing to admit pupils who have been baptised late by parents anxious to get them into top-performing schools.

Parents are going through a "five-year epiphany" when their children reach school age, with a consequent dramatic increase in baptisms of older children.

Many schools are now refusing to accept such late baptisms. Some set the upper limit at 12 months, others within a few weeks of birth.

At St Joseph's RC primary in Maida Vale, London, said Peter Stanford, a governor, "if you have had your child baptised at two or three or four they won't get in."

At London Oratory, a grant-maintained Catholic school in Fulham where Tony Blair sent his two eldest children, the policy is only to admit children baptised no later than four months old.

Staff confirmed that it helped to weed out parents who were playing the system to gain admission. Last year the school had 700 children chasing 160 places. Its head teacher, David McFadden, said: "Our policy has never changed. There are a series of admission criteria, all of them based on canon law.

"The first criterion is based on Mass attendance. The next is to what extent the Catholic parents have met their obligations regarding the Church's sacramental practice, including baptism."

Another top Catholic school, Sacred Heart High, in Hammersmith, attended by Mr Blair's daughter Kathryn, specifies baptism within the "first few weeks of birth" to qualify for a place.

A 37-year-old hairdresser from Essex said she and her husband had converted to Catholicism two years ago to get their daughter into the local Catholic school.

"I did this purely for my children," said the woman, a mother of three who wished to remain anonymous. "I wasn't religious beforehand and I wasn't brought up in a religious family. I could count on one hand the number of times we'd been to church. But I felt very strongly that I wanted to give my children the best chance. That was my main priority."

The audacity of these parents to treat a sacrament as simply a means to a good education without any spiritual intentions is sickening. However, although I understand the point of view of the school administrators, I still think that to require that baptism occur within 4 months of birth is a bit excessive. I was not baptized until I was 6 months old. I know many church-going families who, rightly or wrongly, delayed baptism for numerous reasons.

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