“Ask a Priest: Did I Spend Too Much on Shampoo?”

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Q: I’m wondering if it was wrong of me to spend a lot of money on a liter of shampoo. The shampoo is what you would consider a “luxury” brand, and the shampoo should last for a while. To help in my decision to purchase this, I did make donations in the equivalent amount to charities. Should I return the shampoo? Was this an excessive, wasteful purchase? Can you explain what “prodigality” is? Thank you! – Kristin

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Whether you spent too much is hard to say from this end.

But the fact that you are questioning the purchase might be a nudge from the Holy Spirit to step back and re-evaluate how you are spending money in general.

In this era it’s easy to get caught up in consumerism. It can become the air we breathe — we barely notice it, much less question it.

Rather than agonize over a liter of shampoo, this might be a good moment for you to dedicate some prayer time to see your priorities in the light of your faith.

Perhaps the Spirit is nudging you to think a bit more about the poor around you. You might be inspired to lead a simpler lifestyle.

That said, prodigality can be a hard term to pin down. What is luxury for some might be a necessity for others.

So rather than look for a convenient definition of the word, it might be good to look at our Retreat Guide The Widow’s Might, on stewardship.

It could put you in a different frame of mind and help you review your spending habits in the light of the Gospel.

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