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. Faith

    Whether people believe it or not, God is the Creator after all. Open your eyes~

    March 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Rob

      My eyes are wide open and last I checked I haven't seen god stop by lately. (small g). Having faith is fine, but stop asserting that those of us who choose to keep an open mind to the possiblilty, yet need difinitive evidence are somehow ignorant to the truth.
      Having a closed mind on either side of this question is ignorant.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Lil one

      Rob, those of us who believe in God see him in you. Your lack of faith does nothing more than make our faith stronger.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • razor

      Bill Orileys proof is the tide comes in and the tide goes out. So what is yours the sun comes up and the sun goes down?

      March 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Al

      Lil one,

      Good one...

      How about you give up some money. God is a little short on cash as usual.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chris

      Last I checked you people haven't proven anything. Like everything in this modern world the burden of proof is upon the one making the claim. Using that same process is whats brought us computers and everything you use.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Pee Wee Denton

      In my opinion, Christians can as do as they want on lent. Personally, I don't need to atone for my sins. Jesus atoned for all my sins and washed them away with His Precious Blood. He became the Ultimate, Supreme and Eternal Sacrifice for my sins.
      The bible says that we are justified by faith in Him (Jesus). If His death and sacrifice for me, will not wash away my sins and save me, then, nothing I do will either.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Chris

      @Lil one right...so while you pretend to be better then everyone else because you "believe" in something no one has ever proven.

      How can a modern human not understand that a 2000 year old book is something you should take with a grain of salt....????

      March 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  2. Marge

    I wish republicans and tea bags would give up being hateful, urging to violence and tell the truth once in a while.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Brett

      Maybe you could explain that to the democrats at NPR!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Kuddln

    I have such a long list of things and behaviors to give up for "Lent". I cannot chose the "correct Christian" one ! I've embraced Lenten fasting and embraced giving up behaviors and items that I truly enjoy. But, I believe that my Lord is not interested in my "giving up"... as much as he's wanting me to practice that what He preached back in the days he was here on Earth! Or Wait ! What I might give up for Lent is the continued critizing of my Christian Faith. that's the more important venture in my life!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  4. Jim

    Maybe if people gave up Bigotry and Hatred for Lent, we'd actually have six weeks of Peace......nah, never happen.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Brett

      Jim...Great comment, especailly if people would give it up for 365 days, not just 40

      March 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jim

      Agreed, Brett...they've got to start somewhere.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  5. Runner12345

    I am a person that has respect for another's religion, however, there is no worse plague on this earth than an atheist and thats the truth.
    Is atheism a religion!?
    I see an atheist as a person that has either 2 mom's or 2 dads... if you know what i mean!
    Because those people have nothing and are nothing they are upset at religions, therefore creating hell on earth for fellow men.
    If you are an atheist you must be going through a tough time in life right now, i'm sorry to hear that, remember, your parents love you don't be so down on yourself lmao.
    Let me brake this down for you in a more simple way,
    Your already dead inside so don't bother anymore.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jim

      You are an idiot.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Lil one

      An atheist is still a child of God (no matter how lost they are) and should still be treated as such.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • High as the Moon

      maybe if you gave up the crazy talk for lent, you would learn proper English!! Like the use of "break" instead of "brake" . . . "the lord giveth, and the lord taketh" they must have meant your brains!! haha

      March 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  6. Tim620

    I'm giving up Facebook and not eating red meat, for Lent. It is a spiritual practice, so I can learn to spend more time with God. I'm not Catholic (I'm Methodist). You don't have to be Catholic to follow Lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Mrs. S

      So true! Good for you.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  7. Vickie

    After reading so many negative posts..... I will certainly be praying for you all, positive or negative. Jesus loves us all regardless. Lent and giving something up is a personal experience that you should not boost about. My relationship with my Savior is personal but he did ask us to go into all the world and proclaim.....I'm so sorry that so many people have had bad experiences with Religion. Just take this season to reflect...

    March 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • none

      I know Jesus loves me. He loves me so much he sacrificed himself to himself to save us from the wrath of himself. Of course, if we don't believe that, he will simply send us to burn in hell for eternity.

      Yes, that sounds like love to me.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  8. ThereisnoGod

    I gave up Religion during lent 20 years ago...after Lent was over I kept going...haven't stop since...Religion is for fools.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  9. Agnostic

    How truely sad. This was ment to be the start of a discussion about the observance of Lent. Are you giving up something? What are you giving up? What is your motivation? Instead it has devolved into a bunch of children arguing about life choices and preaching to each other. I don't observe Lent, but I was interested in LEARNING why some people do (beyond "because I'm supposed to") and how they choose to do it. If more people actually FOCUSED on the actual topic and left their baggae at the door, more poeple would learn from one another.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • believe what you'd like

      Agnostic, this is for you...
      I am well educated, intelligent, and believe in choices. My beliefs are my own, and not always in line with Catholicism but that's OK with me. Here's why I fast (sometimes), abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent, "give up" something I like, and do something good during this time of Lent. First, because I want to. Secondly, because in some small way it gets me to focus on my beliefs and what is happening in the world. It is a luxury I don't really have most of the time. It makes me more aware of, and kind to, the people around me. I have been very blessed in my life, and these very tiny self sacrifices are a way to give thanks and remind me that it is through the Grace of God (my words/my belief) that I am even here. I am big enough to admit it's not all about me...

      March 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • ExtraJesusWithThatPlease

      I understand your obvious disgust. I would like to read a faith article and read comments about faith as well. Unfortunately the faith blog seems to be a super powerful magnet for Pseudo-atheists with an axe to grind, who revel in belittling and degrading people with different beliefs. If it was a room, you wouldn't be able to turn around without bumping into a fairy-tale decrying non-believer eager to rip you apart. When I say Pseudo-atheist, it's because I am married to an atheist. How do I know he is an atheist? He absolutely refuses to discuss God. Why? Because as he says "If I believe there is no God, that means there is nothing to discuss." Those are his words, not mine. I am a Christian, and I accept my husbands right to his beliefs, as he accepts my right to my beliefs.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  10. ta'ahine

    I'm givin' up coffee and meat! God sent His Son to give up His life for ALL sins. What have we done to show Him our love? Is He your focus in life? God can take anything away. By giving something up for Lent shows just a very small portion of how great He is to us. We can live without coffee, Facebook, Twitter, a phone, etc. The point is who do you live for?

    March 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  11. AC

    I gave up childish myths such as Christianity.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • ExtraJesusWithThatPlease

      Now all you have to do is give up the childish need to belittle others for having different beliefs.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  12. M

    I've already got a ton on my pre-wedding "do not eat" list, so I'm going to DO something for Lent: Give more than I already do to the poor and food banks, plus work out every single day. You can either do something good or give something up. 🙂

    March 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  13. Tangie

    My family is giving up Eating Out. Not only is this a huge sacrifice for a worthy cause, but it'll save us some $$$

    March 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  14. Wordgrrl

    Now, why is it that a discussion about Christianity sparks such hateful and closed-minded discussion?
    I'm a Christian and I am giving up something for Lent. I'm not bragging about it and I'm not asking you to like it. I'm not asking anyone to become a Christian like me. Nor am I bashing anyone for THEIR religious beliefs. So let's try some respect all around, shall we?

    March 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Carl

      " why is it that a discussion about Christianity sparks such hateful and closed-minded discussion?"

      Maybe because it is ridiculous.

      And it seems like the religious who refuse to consider that their very specific and narrow view of the universe might just be an old story. "Closed-minded" are the ones who deny the concept of evidence and declare unwavering faith.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jesus Freak

      Hey Carl and Kevin, wonder if this was a blog about women discussing their menstrual cycles, would you weigh in? No, because you couldn't relate, likewise, leave the truth to the believers......

      March 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • ExtraJesusWithThatPlease

      It is strange that people go out of their way to seek out articles they know they are about something they supposedly don't believe or care about. @Carl – unwavering faith? I can't say my faith is "unwavering," even Jesus asked God the Father why He had forsaken Him. You can question all you like, but if there was a "Disbelief" blog and I followed every article and left nasty comments, you'd think I was nuts too.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Retta

      AMEN!!! Thank you for the intelligent post.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  15. Stephanie

    I'm actually not catholic..i'm baptist. You can believe whatever you want to believe but you shouldn't post negative things about the Man who created YOU people!!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Kev

      Last time I checked; Jesus didn't create anyone...

      March 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Stephanie

      God created man. God created everything. God is the reason we are all here today. I'm not going to bash what you believe so please don't do the same to what i believe in. I can only pray for you and hope that you choose the right paths in life.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  16. Jesus

    I gave up Christianity....

    March 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • ExtraJesusWithThatPlease

      After seeing the things done by misguided humans in Your name, who could blame you? P.S. I still love you.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Kuddln

      Good choice... but it's too late... the World is full of Christianity and lots of believing members! P.S., I still love you!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  17. Ingline

    I'm giving up wine.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Walker

    I'm giving up fairy tales...

    March 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • yeshua1

      My uncle, the one with the Doctorate in Theology, would laugh.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  19. Tracy in TX

    Absolutely nothing.... In fact, I am just going to have a nice juicy burger from BK.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  20. Kristen fm NY

    Alcohol for me.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Brad+

      Wine and Pizza

      March 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
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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.