home
RSS
March 9th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Explain it to me: What's Lent? And what are you giving up?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the season when many Christians give something up in the weeks before Easter. It's a nod to Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry. 

Some folks are giving up Facebook. Others are cutting down on their carbon emissions.

Are you giving something up? If so, let us know - and explain your choice.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Easter • Holidays • Lent

soundoff (1,213 Responses)
  1. MH

    I will stop reading the idiotic blogs some folks write; I will simply skip over them as soon as it is obvious how idiotic they are..

    I suggest All do the same and not even acknowledge them with answer.

    The problem with folks who are not only aethiests (it seems) but, live their lives being negative rather than (possibly) being opened minded is that they are desperate for Attention.

    They live such a Sad Existence. They will NEVER KNOW GOD...because they do not make the slightest EFFORT to "consider" religion in their life, nor consider that GOD DIED for US... and seeks that those who are LOST, "ASK" for HIM to come into THEIR LIFE.

    This said- "I have HOPE" that those who do not know God, will One Day find him.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Dave

      God is one thing entirely different from the man-made pile of sh!t that religion is. Don't ever make the mistake of confusing the two.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Patrick O'Malley

      I hope one day you find a job.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Uh huh

      "GOD" doesn't exist...but you're right about religion.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Mad Thinker

      I hope that someday you open your mind and see beyond the one stereotype that you choose to accept as truth.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  2. Burbank

    I'm giving up Catholicism.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Patrick O'Malley

      Will the priests give up molesting boys for lent?

      March 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Donewithit

      LOL, that is exactly what I said yesterday to a friend. 😉

      March 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • OK

      Good for you! Wish you a very nice life, sincerely. I like how someone put it and Lent=Catholics=Pedo-philes=Stupid etc... Then we're just fine with you not liking it. Move on and be merry!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • TheTruth72

      @Burbank....Were you really one to begin with?

      @Patrick.....Why try to stereotype. There have been molestations in many religious places and even outside of religion. The only reason your hearing about it more in Catholic or Christian places is because the media throws that at everyone.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • joe

      As are a lot of others....The Catholic church won't recognize how many minds they've poisoned and how many loyal they've turned away due to their control and fear tactics. Lent is another easy way of exerting control over the flock for a couple of months out of the year. No meat on Ash Wednesday, nor meat on Fridays. Give up something for forty days and guarantee your salvation. Get on your knees and repent for I am man, the pastor of this church. I represent the sovereign nation of Vatican City and I have ultimate control over you. If you resist I will shame you into Hell.
      Sorry fellas, the fear is gone. you're is one religion of many and everyone can't be right. And when you bible thumpers start trashing me, YOU DON'T KNOW EITHER! You know nothing of the afterlife, only of words written by MEN, lost in translation over hundreds and thousands of years. Not one person that wrote of Jesus even knew him

      March 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • none

      @TheTruth72

      Why is it in the news though? Oh yeah, because Christians claim to be morally superior. Yet, as we can see and you just admitted, this is demonstrably false.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Youreright

      @Joe. I think what you chose to believe about any church makes it easier for you to yell in anger. No one said, they knew everything, the Catholic church has recognize many wrong doing over the years. They are simply still searching for the Truth, for God and not sending anyone to hell. There is no fear, there is no control and when there is, it's just wrong. That is not what it's about, but you don't want to hear anything that may make sense because you're more interested in yelling out in anger.
      I don't know everything, i certainly don't know who is going to hell, and just because i go to church, or fast, there is no guarantee for me. My faith helps me be a part of something bigger than me along with all mankind. Call me delusional, i won't mind. Take care of yourself.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  3. El Kababa

    I recommend giving up Christianity for Lent and forevermore. Life will be better. Your mind will rest more easy. You can relax finally.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • sjj668

      I gave up Lent for Lent. Giving up religion is like giving up crack. Tough to do but well worth the effort.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • bandgeek1

      I'm confused. Why do people who profess no faith insist on reading and then commenting on an article about faith. If you don't believe in it, simple don't read it.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Jonathan

      If it makes you feel better to close your mind, fine. But in the end, we will all shut our eyes for the last time... in that quiet moment where your final thought asks "what's next," will you look back and say it was all worth it? Maybe. Maybe not.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  4. Nell

    I'm giving up shopping, laziness and hoping to grow closer to my extended family. Why? it's a trivial, tiny thing I can do ... it's the least I can do or am required to do for the sacrifice Christ made for me. What is Lent? Lent is a period of remembrance, renewal and a time to change along with millions of my Christian brothers and sisters. We remember what God and Christ did for us, we are able to renew and refresh our souls and lives, and we are centered on church, our faith and our beliefs. Prayer is rampant, sacrifice is challenging and yes, Catholics can have fun with it if we want! our faith is all about love and life.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  5. mplaya

    I'm catholic and give up Lent for Lent. Not into the dogma of the whole thing.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  6. Gemma

    Why is it that Christians are labeled under Catholicism? Mr. Gilgof states "Lent for Christians.." I grew up Protestant and never had to do lent – it is a Catholic thing! Some religion

    March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Gemma

      Some religion editor he is to state that it is all Christians!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • rva80

      Lent is not celebrated by just Catholics. Protestant denominations of christianity observe Lent. However, evangelical protestants in the United States do not celebrate it. Note, those denominations are very new in the history of Christianity.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  7. Tom

    I wonder if the same people that are attacking Christians and our beliefs are the first ones to come to the defense of others religions citing the First Amendment?

    Let's face it, this country was founded on Christian principles and there will never be a total operation of church and state because of that. If you don't like that, you can always try to immigrate to communist China.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Tom

      "operation" should have been "separation".... Dang phone auto correct..... I knew I should have done this from the computer instead.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Dana

      Well, Tom, at least it was a pretty benign autocorrect. I've seen a lot worse than that!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Baphogoat

      Actually, this country was not founded on Christian principles, in fact most the founding fathers were decidedly anti-religion..demonstrated by their Deist beliefs. At least this is what they publicly admitted to, it could very well be that they were atheist in a time that would not accept this declaration, and so historically they are known as Deists.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Haemisch

      The Founders were both Deist and Chritian. Why does everyone always have to make it one or the other? They always have to justify their position by pointing to the number of X among the Founders. It's nonsense. Many were influenced by Christianity others more by the times (I.e. the Enlightenment).

      March 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      Jeez not another "this country was founded on Christian principles" bit. If it were, then we would still have slavery.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  8. Barking Alien

    I am giving up working for Lent.....not really. I just try living a good life all year around.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  9. LP

    When I was in high school (and still a nominal protestant) I gave up my boyfriend for Lent. It's 30 years later . . . maybe I should tell him Lent is over.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  10. mplaya

    I am catholic and I give up lent for lent. not into the dogma of the whole thing.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Dana

      There's a lot of dogma in the Church. But this is the holiest time of the year, more so than Christmas. If you don't really care to give Lent the proper place in your heart that it deserves, not even a little, then are you sure you're in the right faith? It's really important. Give it a try, you may be surprised at the effect it has on your life.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  11. Bill

    In the Bible, 40 represents a time of testing (Moses' 40 years in the wilderness, NOAH – 40 days and nights, Jesus – fasting for 40 days, etc.) Lent is not just a time to give up something bad, but also a time to take on something good you wouldn't ordinarily do. Plus the idea is to continue on the process beyond the 40 day period to improve yourself and help others, an example being quitting smoking. At the same time, what you do should be kept between you and God, and maybe someone who would hold you accountable. People who participate aren't hypocrites, they're making an effort to improve. To mock Lent and its purpose, only reflects the poor character of those who mock the participants, and not the participants themselves.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      40 also represents the number of children that were molested today by priests.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  12. Damion

    nothing...not religious. Its for the sheep.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • CalBears

      you are such a badass. wow, what's it like to be such a man damion?

      March 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Haemisch

      CalBears....LOL ;0)

      March 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Alpharius

    Like other intelligent people, I'm going to give up belief in primitive mythology.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Sam

      You need to realize that the Lent season is a tradition that reminds Christians of our baptismal commitments. If you as a catholic or a non-catholic thought that people were trying to earn their way into salvation by following a set of rules YOU are terribly mistaken. Dont blame the teachings of the church if you dont understand the true meaning of the teaching or are using an example of a bad catholic to support your claim. Historically, people used to use the Lent season to prepare for their baptism during Easter. So Preparation for Baptism and for renewing baptismal commitment lies at the heart of the season.

      Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has reemphasized the baptismal character of Lent, especially through the restoration of the Catechumenate and its Lenten rituals. Our challenge today is to renew our understanding of this important season of the Church year and to see how we can integrate our personal practices into this renewed perspective.

      Why is Baptism so important in our Lenten understanding? Lent as a 40-day season developed in the third/fourth century from three merging sources. The first was the ancient paschal fast that began as a two-day observance before Easter but was gradually lengthened to 40 days. The second was the catechumenate as a process of preparation for Baptism, including an intense period of preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation to be celebrated at Easter. The third was the Order of Penitents, which was modeled on the catechumenate and sought a second conversion for those who had fallen back into serious sin after Baptism. As the catechumens (candidates for Baptism) entered their final period of preparation for Baptism, the penitents and the rest of the community accompanied them on their journey and prepared to renew their baptismal vows at Easter.

      Lent, then, is radically baptismal.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Jonathan

      And instead you hold to a belief that states an anthropic universe necessitating precisely tuned universal constants appeared out of random chance? Let me put it in simpler terms. We know the universe is impossible through natural means – something natural cannot come from nothing. We do not know the existence of a Super-Intelligence is impossible. Therefore something supernatural, if it exists – which we cannot confirm or deny, unlike the natural world's existence – could indeed create the natural world.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Dana

      I would absolutely be willing to bet the number of years of education and my IQ against yours. And I'm Catholic. Open your mind. To think that somehow you understand what is and what is not is arrogance of the highest order.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  14. Kevin

    1 Samuel 15:22

    "To obey is better than a sacrifice."

    The bible does not include anything about lent. God wants consistant obedience not a token period of time where people feel obligated for a brief period to show some sort of respect.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Sam

      Please do not mislead people about what the catholic church teaches using your understanding of what Lent is. It is not a habitual and certainly NOT a pagan practice. You can even argue in that case that the resurrection of Christ also has parallels with pagan practices. For that matter Animal sacrifices to pay for sins has been a practice in all major religions. Can you then say that the old testament teachings were Pagan too? Please dont tell me that it took 1600 years for Christians to realize that the Lent season was not a Christian practice.

      You need to realize that the Lent season is a tradition that reminds us of our baptismal commitments. If you as a catholic or a non-catholic thought that people were trying to earn their way into salvation by following a set of rules YOU are terribly mistaken. Dont blame the teachings of the church if you dont understand the true meaning of the teaching or are using an example of a bad catholic to support your claim. Historically, people used to use the Lent season to prepare for their baptism during Easter. So Preparation for Baptism and for renewing baptismal commitment lies at the heart of the season.

      Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has reemphasized the baptismal character of Lent, especially through the restoration of the Catechumenate and its Lenten rituals. Our challenge today is to renew our understanding of this important season of the Church year and to see how we can integrate our personal practices into this renewed perspective.

      Why is Baptism so important in our Lenten understanding? Lent as a 40-day season developed in the third/fourth century from three merging sources. The first was the ancient paschal fast that began as a two-day observance before Easter but was gradually lengthened to 40 days. The second was the catechumenate as a process of preparation for Baptism, including an intense period of preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation to be celebrated at Easter. The third was the Order of Penitents, which was modeled on the catechumenate and sought a second conversion for those who had fallen back into serious sin after Baptism. As the catechumens (candidates for Baptism) entered their final period of preparation for Baptism, the penitents and the rest of the community accompanied them on their journey and prepared to renew their baptismal vows at Easter.

      Lent, then, is radically baptismal.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Jonathan

      Kevin – I used to be an Evangelical once as well. Years of study and debate changed my views to the Catholic Faith. Your replies and logic, while on the surface are correct, imply you don't fully understand the Catholic faith or what the scriptures intended. It's all too common among the Evangelical circles. Prayers up.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Sam

      Kevin,
      If you really want to see whats NOT in the bible, here is a man made tradition for you: SOLA-SCRIPTURA

      The foundation on which much of Protestantism stands.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Christopher

    I'm giving up Christianity for 40 days.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  16. Miky

    Im giving up tofu

    March 9, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  17. Chris

    I'm giving up Lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • CalBears

      Sweet post – no one else has said that – get a life

      March 9, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  18. Danno

    While I'm not Catholic, and there ARE other faiths within Christianity that observe it, I don't think I will tell. The purpose isn't supposed to be about getting on a pedestal and screaming "I'M GIVING UP *Blah*!!!" It's about bringing yourself as an individual closer to your relationship with God. By giving something up you do daily or take for granted it makes you think.

    I find it extremely silly that many people posting on this automatically connect the following: Lent=Catholics=Pedophelia=Connection with church and God=Stupid blind people who don't see the world around them=God is a lie (in any forms)... which leads to John Lennon's saying "All we need is Love" to be washed down the drain. So much for unity in the face of diversity.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Someone

      Like!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Guerrina

      Thank you, Danno, for pointing out that the observance of Lent is between a believer and God and is part of many denominations, not just Catholic.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  19. John

    Giving up settling for mediocrity.

    @Jenny: the problem isn't capitalism, but some of the capitalists. The problem isn't the wind but some of the things it blows.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  20. Ms Galaxy

    Bob, wow, I have to say you have written beautifully the thoughts I hold and the debates I have with believers. Articulate (despite a few typos) enough for it to go viral!

    Thanks for taking the time to type this all out. Hopefully you'll reach beyond the choir. I hope everyone takes the time to read your entry in its entirety. W00t! Let's hear it for freethinkers!

    March 9, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Ms Galaxy

      Rats, this was supposed to be a reply. Makes no sense here. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:42 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.