When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit". Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money." Acts 8:18-20, NIV
In a biography of Madame Curie, her sister tells of a hated teacher's daughter who fell ill. The children pooled their money, went to a local priest and asked him to perform a mass. When the priest asked the purpose of the mass, the children said that it was a secret. They had conspired to get the mass said in order that the girl would die.
Double horror--that the act of Simony was invoked, and that the girls had such murderous intentions.
Are we not glad that today such acts no longer take place? Unfortunately, religious power, in one or another form, is still sought today.
What a tremendous work it would be to trace the connection between the seeking of Divine power and plain old money! We send missionaries to people who make voodoo dolls and pay practitioners of the dark arts, and yet we ourselves have religion for hire.
In the Holy Land I visited a church, built on the supposed site of the birth of Christ. While some were crying over the little grotto, a man with a rough voice insisted we put money on a shelf.
Simon's spirit lives on.