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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. Enamina

    I'm going to work on being patient and understanding towards my loved ones (the most difficult), especially when work and life gets me wrapped up in too much excitement. Maybe slowing down for lent will help me appreciate people for who they are, and help me be a better person in the long run.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • ScottK

      By the way, you can try that anytime of the year, you don't have to make it a religious sacrafice to be a good person.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Catrina

    I am giving up meals after 7PM and devoting that time to my family and personal relationship with Jesus. See you all at Easter =)

    March 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  3. CJ Topspin

    I gave up Lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  4. freethinker

    I gave up church for lent years ago 🙂

    March 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  5. Beth

    I am giving up sweets for Lent. I'm a sugar junkie that is letting the sweets get the upper hand. I plan to give thanks, pray, or contemplate on my relationship with God whenever I get the irresitable (God give me strength) urge to munch!

    March 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  6. BQsauce

    I'll be giving up religion for lent, I think this makes the most sense as it is bar far the worst of my vices.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  7. Catrina

    I am giving up meals after 7PM and devoting that time to my family and personal relationship with Jesus. See you all at Easter =)

    March 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  8. Wayne

    I'm giving up abstinence

    March 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  9. Sam

    Lenten 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.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  10. Ruth

    I am giving up sugar/corn syrup sweetened drinks. Yes, I am from the south, and therefore consider sweet tea to normally be a staple. But, of all my habits, drinking sweetened beverages is something I do every day. It will be on my mind multiple times during the day. It will help me to focus on the concept that self-indulgence should be limited, discipline is vital, and the God that I believe in asks us to make certain sacrifices for our own well being and that of those around us.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  11. Brian

    giving up meats & sweets, only for today and subsequent fridays during lent though.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Phil E. Drifter

      That's great, I'll eat your servings. Time to order a Papa John's Italian Meats Trio every Friday for the next month, as well as today!

      /g*ddamn religitards, there is no god, get over it... EVOLVE

      March 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  12. TomBomb

    I'm giving up religion for lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  13. AnnieP

    I used to give up things like candy or cake because I love those things but last year I decided to challenge myself beyond material things and gave up worry/anxiety for lent. I tend to be someone who worries a lot, every day about something, whether it is my family or my friends. So I decided instead of having worry-some thoughts I would pray for them instead. Now, I am not saying I stopped taking care of them or anything like that but really worked on setting aside worry and anxiety in general. Some of you may laugh at that but it was a very interesting experience for me.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Theresa

      What a wonderful idea – I am going to give this up too!! I hope I succeed because this has been a thorn in my side for a long time (worry/anxiety/panic). I will try to pray instead of worry.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  14. Reality

    After the latest Philadelphia Archdiocese "vomit-inducing" revelations about priestly ped-ophilia and coverups, I am giving up the RCC not only for Lent but permanently.---

    March 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  15. nina1956

    I am giving up house keeping and laundry

    March 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  16. Hannah

    It's too bad that some people have decided what Christianity is based on comments on this site or through some really out there "catholics" or "christians" and then lumping them all into one group.
    Are you white? How would you feel if someone said because you are that you are a terrible person because white people had slaves in the US. The "groups" that did things in the name of religion were not Christians, Jesus does not agree with that type of behavior. He calls us to love one another and to treat others well. You should help the person you see hurting, and feed the person you see hungry, not hope someone else will come along and do it for you. When you say that people pray and don't do anything with their hands... do you not understand that doing things with your hands is a product of your faith? If I just claimed to be a Christian and then set on my rear and ignored everything in the world and didn't wish to do something to make it better, I am not following the teachings of Christ. There are excellent books, written BY Christians about this topic. SO many people hate "christianity" but don't really know what a true Christian is. If you have someone who is a Christian and you don't like them, I assure you, they aren't following God. You should feel blessed to know them, regardless of whether you believe or not. They should be an example of Christ to you always. That doesn't mean telling you you are going to hell, or anything like that. It means being there when you need them, loving you, and caring about you as a human, not judging you. That is what Christ asks of us. Sadly, the people who are doing it right, don't make the news.

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

      I just realized that most people associate Lent with Catholics. That is not the case. Methodists, Lutherans and many other denominations recognize Lent.
      Lent is extrabiblical in that it is not something God asks of us or says we have to do. It's completely by choice. Lent is a way to remind yourself each day for the 40 days before Easter that you are a Christian and that you have behaviors that are not in line with God's teachings and allows you to devote more time and thought to those things. Some people give up something. (I'm giving up cabbage haha) But deep down, there's something that you have that may be interefering in your Christian walk and you can focus on that, and carry that change PAST the lenten season. I need to work on using my words better and that my words should be a blessing to others and not a way to tear them down. The protestant view of Lent is different than the Catholic view, so I am only speaking to that. It's similar to the "12 days of Christmas" to some people in that it's something you do each day leading up to an event, its just that in this case it's something you do that brings you closer to Christ and his teachings.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  17. rich

    As soon as he said "Easter"...they show Easter eggs. Which we all know is bogus! Come people, let's all worship a bunny.

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

      You must have never heard of the hair club for men.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  18. Carole

    in keeping lent. you make a commitment to do something good for yourself or for the family for the environment. Something that requires some effort on your part.
    It is something like committing to train for a marathon, getting up and doing your mileage even when you don't feel like it. But the finish line is sooo good. and I think you are better for it, in mind body and spirit. Putting religion in the mix helps to get the resolve because you have made a commitment outside yourself

    March 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  19. CC

    Oh, poor Sean Stott...all the Christians in the world are ganging up just to "hurt" him. Yes, Christians take the time to pray, but they are also out there running free kitchens for those who have no food, thrift stores for those in need of clothing, they offer childcare for families who cannot pay for it, they help build homes and churches for those who are without. You know nothing of the contributions of the Christians out there using their hands to help others. There are some who treat the Lenten season as a way to give up candy, or cake or other things, but there are also those who use the time to improve their character or behavior and reflect on how they behave everyday. To state they give up what would otherwise be considered a luxury is foolish. Sometimes people give up things they like such as a particular meat or dish to remind themselves of the sacrifice made by God through His son Jesus. Christians are not leading delusional lives....you unfortunately are living a very miserable and bitter one because you are so intent upon being critical and intolerant of Christians and their beliefs. And for the record teaching evolution is teaching a theory and does not necessarily contradict the concept of creationism. The world as Christians believe was created by God, but evolution can also be a part of it as things went on from there. Next time you want to criticize something or someone why not take a look in the mirror. And as for Al's comment on priests giving up molesting children...shame on you. I am not a Catholic, but I also know that all priest do not engage in this behavior so your futile attempt at sick humor was dumb at best.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Rant much?

      March 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  20. John1966

    I'm giving up CNN. Maybe for good.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • aNON

      LOL

      March 9, 2011 at 12:37 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.