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. WILL

    Al--you are a pitiful and selfish person

    March 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  2. none

    "Sacrificing" is not a GOOD thing.

    Our society is so backwards that it idolizes self-sacrifice. Guess who came up with this idea? Rich people who want to make poor people feel good about being poor. "Oh, look how good you are, you are sacrificing yourself for the greater good (aka, my wallet)... you will get a special reward... AFTER you die."

    What a joke.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • PullenSeeker

      You've very helpfully stated an uninformed, stereotypical dismissal of religious devotion. It doesn't look much like the "real thing" though.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • none

      Here are your choices, for any given action:

      1. You are harmed, everyone else is harmed (aka destructive)
      2. You are harmed, everyone else benefits (aka sacrificing)
      3. You benefit, everyone else is harmed (aka selfishness)
      4. You benefit, everyone else benefits (aka win-win)

      Many selfish rich people love stupid poor people who feel "spiritual" by sacrificial themselves for their master's benefit. It's a con. Get over it.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  3. LeShon

    I am an atheist, but my wife is Catholic, so this headline piqued my interest. I just want to say, as an atheist myself, that all of the anti-Christian types who are bashing religion on this thread need to just go away and let the people who want to discuss the topic have a rational discussion. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean you can hijack their thread. This article isn't about the existence of God or the merits of Catholicism; let Catholics discuss their Lent plans in peace. The intolerance here is appalling.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Lori

      Thank you - you are a kind person! 🙂

      March 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  4. crunchyed

    I'm giving up fast food..... because I love it sooo much and it's unhealthy.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  5. alfonds

    I'm retired and sleep till 8:30 A.M. I love to sleep late and am addicted to it–therefore I'm sticking to getting up at 7:30 A.M. everyday during Lent This is a sacrifice to me but not necessarily to others.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  6. Gregory777

    I'm Orthodox and was tot through the years by my dad who is an Orthodox Priest Fasting is always important but not only to fast but to help other's especialy during lent. Explample feeding the homeless once week or just voluntary somewhere.
    And understand everything (material) we have doesn't me a darn thing in the in. It's all about our souls.


    March 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  7. runner305

    "With the power of soul, anything is possible...With the power of you, anything you wanna do"...Jimi Hendrix. That's all the faith I need.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  8. Dean

    Fasting for 40 days on fruits, vegetables and juices.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  9. dude

    Not giving UP anything. Instead, taking something on... working in the local food pantry, prayer time after dinner.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  10. Tavo

    Why just one week and not for the rest of your life. That is how it suppose to be.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Lori

      Lent is 40 days not one week . . . you should know all of the facts that you are criticizing before you do . . . otherwise you look like an idiot.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  11. MC

    I am Christian, not Catholic and I have never really understood why everyone gives up something for lent, like alcohol, smoking, desserts, whatever it may be. As soon as lent is over, they go right back to the drinking or smoking or whatever it was they gave up for those 40 days. I believe that you should try to give up these things year round and try to be a better person year round, not just for 40 days. You should practice self control and personal growth throughout the year. This is my opinion and I have respect for all those who do practice lent as that is in their beliefs.

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

      You make a good point. However, you err in saying Catholic's are not Christians. We fall under the same umbrella as protestant faiths, and are close cousins to Lutheran's, Episcopalian's and Methodists.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • MC

      I think you misunderstood me, I was stating that I am not Catholic, but still Christian. I guess I wasn't that clear when I wrote it. I know Catholics fall under the same umbrella, we believe in the same God. My father is Catholic as well as my husband so I have respect for that specific religion but have my own beliefs in certain aspects of the religion.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  12. Luis Wu

    I'm giving up all hope that humanity will ever wake up and stop blindly accepting archaic myths from thousands of years ago.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  13. JB

    This is not on the topic of lent but is is a quote that some of the people commenting should foillow:

    "Stupidity is also a gift of God, But one mustn't miisuse it "

    Pope John Paul II

    March 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  14. Pastor Dan

    In reading some of the comments, I would just like to say that I would rather take a chance of being wrong in my belief in God as well as my faith in Jesus Christ as to be one that says there is no God only to stand before Him in the final judgement to hear the words "depart from me" and be cast into the lake of fire . . .

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

      You also could be wrong about the value of all the man-made, archaic rituals you perform to please your god. I would much rather live a fulfilling, guilt-free life where I get to enjoy being alive instead of fretting over whether or not a bearded wizard is going to let me on his cloud after I die.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • ALieano

      I agree with you =)

      March 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • ALieano

      agree with Pastor Dan =)

      March 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • joe

      Huh...maybe your God is not the forgiving God he's been made out to be. That's what a loving God does though, right? Cast you into a burning hell? I love you so much I'm going to torture you for an eternity. I love my children but I sure couldn't imagine torturing them for an eternity because I gave them free will to try to do what's right.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • redmonde

      Amen Pastor Dan!

      March 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Pastor Dan

      Hi -Dan...

      You certainly well may be right. No one can dispute that. And... your posting is a version of the long-held 'Pascal's Wager,' which has been logically and reasonably held to 'not' be a very smart reason or a case for believing the way you do.

      There are any number of possibilities that may or could happen, 'if' there even is a life after bodily death, yes...? And, to base one's thinking or beliefs on..."I'm going to believe this way...just in case" doesn't seem to be really great way to base one's reasoning, faith or critical thinking on.

      Plus, if God is going to 'eternally damn' everyone, that just didn't 'believe'... Well, that's certainly not a quality, in my humble opinion, that is worthy of a God, given the alleged qualities of his infinite love, kindness, mercy, etc...

      Just some thoughts...


      March 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Alex

      Typical Christians; believe what I say or you'll be punished. I have no fear of going to hell because hell is a make-believe place invented to scare peasants into behaving themselves. I am offended when human beings, such as Pastor Dan, believe they have some special authority to know who would go to hell if it existed. To tell someone that they deserve to go where the worst people in the world go when they die is still insulting, even if you're rational enough to know such a place is a fairy tale.

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

      Considering the number of religions out there, the odds of your's being the "right" one are pretty slim.

      March 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  15. chris

    I tend to appreciate the idea of giving up a luxury and donating the money that would have otherwise been spent on that luxury to charity. Maybe instead of going out to dinner once a week, cook at home and donate $60 to a soup kitchen....just a thought!

    March 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  16. Jules Mom

    One of the cool things about the ashes is that they are Sacramental, as opposed to a sacrement. That means that anybody can get them..its a sign or mourning and repentence and the wearer is called apon to "turn away from sin." Not such a bad idea.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Lori

      Nicely put . . .

      March 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  17. Deka LV

    I'm giving up slavery, stoning adulterers, believing in miracles and go cart racing.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • joe

      You can't give that up! The bible says you're supposed to do all those things.......and oh yeah, treat women unfairly. Yep that's my bible...slavery, killing people for working on sunday.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  18. Young Money Democrat

    I'm giving up Christianity for Lent!

    March 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Al


      March 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  19. OnanismO

    What you're giving up is your freedom to think for yourself by accepting this fantasy man-in-the-sky BS that has somehow managed to propagate throughout the centuries of modern human existence. LAME!

    March 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • amy

      a$$ wednesday

      March 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Lisa

      you're lame

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

      Why so angry? Why does it bother you that people want to practice some self sacrifice as a sign of their faiths?

      March 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  20. JLB

    I'm giving up the burden of the expectation that I put on myself to be perfect, and the pressure to conform to the expectations of others just because I work in a mainstream church. Lent isn't about Christians; it's about Christ, and the submission he practiced that others might experience gain, most of whom he had never met. I don't know how to be a good Christian; I can only hope to follow Christ and do what he says, that maybe through my obedience, someone else can experience gain.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Greg

      So very well put....We all can only be that which is an imerfect attempt at mirroring a Christ like life. I can only hope that HE sees me as a good and faithful servant even with my flawed life.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
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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.