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“Ask a Priest: Would It Be Wrong to Buy an Expensive Horse?”
Q: I need spiritual direction regarding wealth and hobbies. My husband’s job provides an abundance of financial freedom for us, and I am not needing to work anymore. Most people would be overjoyed by this, but I see the great responsibility and it makes me a bit fearful. We do financially contribute to our church and other organizations (we could be a little more generous with the amount). I am wondering if purchasing an expensive horse is prudent? I want to purchase my dream horse, which is similar to the cost of a car. There would be ongoing costs, too, for its care. So, this is a big financial commitment, for which I do have the means. But is this sinful? I would still be able to fulfill my commitments of teaching CCD, do my adoration hour, pray for my priest, and go to daily Mass and on Sunday. My struggle is thinking that the money and time spent could be used for a charitable thing. I don’t have many hobbies outside of faith things. We do have a lake home and spend time there and boat/snowmobile with family and friends. I struggle with this when I think that I am not following Jesus and the models of good Christians given to us in the saints. Seems that they did not have hobbies and luxuries. I thank you in advance for your guidance. – M.U.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: The fact that you are questioning the appropriateness of buying an expensive horse might be a sign the Holy Spirit is nudging your conscience. Which in turn might be a fruit of your prayers and Masses.
There are two issues you might want to consider separately.
First, it might be good for you and husband to discern together how much of your wealth you want to spend on hobbies and recreation.
Then, it would be good to discern together how the two of you can use your wealth to further Christ’s Kingdom.
A few preliminary points are worth keeping in mind.
Remember the incident of the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4): Our Lord not only praised the poor woman’s generosity, but he also offered a gentle critique of what the rich people donated.
Recall, too, that more than 700 million people in the world live in extreme poverty, defined as getting by on less than $1.90 a day.
And there is no shortage of people in dire straits — think of the Christians who have been forced out of the Mideast because of violence, as well as the tens of millions who live hand to mouth in Asia and Africa and other parts.
Closer to home, if you think in terms of trade-offs, imagine what could be done if you took the money spent on the horse and channeled it into scholarships for needy children to attend Catholic schools.
Maybe some of this is worth taking to prayer. Our free Retreat Guide on stewardship, The Widow’s Might, could be useful for you and your husband to watch together and discuss. It also might be worth meditating on Matthew 25:31-46. I hope some of this helps.
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A issue that affects us all. I get over it by using my possessions for good of others. e.g I use my car to transport people to church and deliver food parcels. Poster could buy the horse and allow children with autism to learn to ride. Would need to carry out risk assessments etc.