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. Deb

    Giving up somethng once a year is not going to help you.....it's ridiculous! You're suppose to give up your own will everyday!

    March 9, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Nick

      Of course giving up something for a small period of time will not help. But I think you misunderstand the long term effects of fasting.

      Fasting (if done properly, which many people don't) is a way of getting closer to God. Which really is the goal of lent. Also good lent resolutions are ones that you can take at least part of into your life.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • PeterVN

      @Nick, I suppose that if you fast completely for long enough, you will indeed reach a state (death) that might reveal whether or not your god exists. However, one has to wonder why a supposedly personal "god" that supposedly cares about your well-being would want you to endanger your health by encouraging behavior that does not fulfill basic nutritional needs. That is just one more example of how ridiculous Christian beliefs are.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Donate the money you save to a soup kitchen.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • David

      Peter, it is a true fact that going without food for a day a week will not effect your health. In fact it might help your health, not to mention most people give up a type of food not all food for 40 days. Upon craving this food the ideal is that you pray to God. Not to take away the craving but to be thankful and to try to get yourself closer to him.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  2. mike

    The question was to list what you would be giving up and why. Why do so many people feel the need to respond with cynicism or with remarks outside of the scope of the very specific question?

    March 9, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  3. Steve

    I'm giving up religion.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • David

      So in 40 days you're going back to religion? That's odd, I hope it works for you. God Bless you.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  4. violinman

    Lent is a time of self sacrifice so that a) you can focus of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ b) and so you have extra to share with others who sacrifice every day of the year. As with most of the last decade or so I am sacrificing food. I have dropped to a 1000 cal/day. Basically I make my 20 day emergency event supply and make it last the 40 days. It also allows me to refresh my emergency event supply every year.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  5. jim

    What are you giving up? Reason and free will about sums it up.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Idiot, I guess

      Reason and free will, please explain.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  6. R.D.W.

    I love Ash Wednesday. It always puts a smile on my face seeing idiots walking around with a smudged cross on their foreheads.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Idiot, I guess

      Idiots? feel free to explain why Christians are idiots...

      March 9, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Dan

      Here's an explanation:
      Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own
      father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and
      telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove
      an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a
      rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
      Otherwise you'll be tortured forever by an invisible red guy with horns.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Idiot, I guess

      Dan: Satirically impressive, and if that is what Christians believe, then yes they are idiots. But I tend to think that its based more on a belief that something larger and more complex than we can understand created everything, left us pieces of evidence of his existence, and left us Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (BIBLE) that we try to live by....

      March 9, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Kat

      Dan: That is soooooooo old. How about something original?

      March 9, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • SilverFox

      RDW......I won't say what I want other than God Bless You.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Plaid Thermos

    21 priests from PA were suspended for evidence that places them all at the scene of the crime.....but the church will not release all of their names.....they are still protecting the priests.....over the victims......darn......they still don't get it.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  8. Andy O

    Soda, snacks and 20 pounds! Summer is almost here and the beach is calling!!!!

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  9. Kristen

    You don't have to give up for Lent. I'm taking on volunteering at the local animal shelter as a way to give back t my community. It's about making you a better and more spiritual person.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • violinman

      Amen! Very good point.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  10. Rick

    Wow! So much mean-spirit in these posts, towards something so good. Like it or not – Christian or not, this tradition stands for something good. Perhaps ABE, CAIN, PHIL, FATHER MIKE (as you call yourself) should give up posting hate on a Blog for Lent. See how it feels for 40 days. Really.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  11. txfirewife30

    ummm...first...Ash Wednesday is NOT just for Catholics....There are many other religions that celebrate as well.

    I'm not giving up anything...instead as a family we are setting up a box in our kitchen and every day we are putting in 2 cans of non parishable food and at the end of 40 days we are going to give the box to the Food Bank or the St. Vincent De Paul society to help out those less fortunate than what we have been blessed with. We aren't rich and we aren't poor but GOD has blessed us with 2 amazing children, we both have jobs and its our way of giving back.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  12. barnboy

    How about giving up intolerance for awhile?

    March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  13. algodoma


    March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  14. Andrew

    Im giving up Charlie Sheen.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  15. Michigan Mom

    I was trying to explain Lent to my 4 year old. We are not church-going, but I was raised Catholic. I explained it that during Lent, people give up something that they usually do–maybe something you eat. At first, she wanted to give up cereal. She eats it every morning, so I thought maybe that was not a good one (nutritionally for a picky 4 year old). In the end, I loved that she decided to give up oatmeal, because she doesn't like to eat it anyway. Seems the classic conundrum of the Lenten season–people giving up things for all the wrong reasons. While not church going, I think it's a humbling experience. I'll have to figure out another way to explain Lent to her....

    March 9, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • violinman

      It sounds like maybe your 4 yo may be your pathway back to church. The doors are always open.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • JJ

      You should have Santa Claus bring her all the oatmeal she missed out on for Xmas. She might think it's funny someday when she realizes there's no Santa.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  16. Suz

    I am giving up drinking during the week. Our bodies are our temples so we have to try to take better care of them. Also, I will read scripture related to Lent. Going to sing in the Ash Wednesday service tonight and hopefully encourage others to trust in God and give him all their troubles.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  17. coder

    i'm giving up on the government's ability to view its citizens as human beings rather than automatic tax payers

    March 9, 2011 at 10:29 am |

    I'm going to give up reading all the stupid commemts on all the news sites.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  19. justify4poor

    I restrain my heart from many desires so I can live a simple life ever and cry out for mercy for myself and this world.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  20. God

    Is that the best you can do?

    March 9, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • The Great USA

      What a weak, shallow person you must be. We Christians even pray for souls like you!

      March 9, 2011 at 10:31 am |
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