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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. Michelle

    This is the first year I've celebrated Lent and I'm 50 years old. I"m giving up late night tv and sugar. How's that for an interesting combo?! :o)

    March 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Amused Reader

      Good luck Michelle...and I do have to say it's interesting how so many atheists are reading a religion blog.....I am so laughing at this....looking for something are we? Oh well...each their own..just an observation...I know God, love Him and wish the best for those that don't....and bash me til the end of time...I don't really care or get mad or whatever......that should really give ya'll something to talk about......bye

      March 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Scott

    I'm giving up sweet stuff for Lent. I did last year too and lost 10 pounds. And some of you people need to lighten up. Catholics have been discussing what they 'gave up' since we were all in grade school. We used to have to stand up on Ash Wednesday and announce to everyone what it was...and some of the good sisters would pronounce your sacrifice 'good' or 'not good enough'.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  3. Susan

    Because I am a school teacher I have had to give up a whole bunch already. No going to movies, out to eat, to visit bookstores, no free time while I work both of my jobs, given up both days of my weekends. If I had one pay check from the "Winner" Mr. Sheen I would be set for life. Never to worry about money again. When you learn to raise a family and take care of your eldery parents on twenty five thousand a year his pay would last one or two life times. No more giving up for me. Maybe next year.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  4. joe

    I will use this tradition as a way to kick my beer drinking

    March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  5. Whitney

    quick question to Sean Stott on your post where you numbered out points. Ending with "...and be revered for ages" referring to Jesus dying. How many of the posts that you see up from this Lent subject have be in reverence to Him? Jesus willingly died, knowing it would be a tortuous death and even then people would not love and accept Him afterwards. To this day, an a article about Lent gives people the excuse to slander Him. Is that the reverence you were referring that He so boldly forsaw?

    March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  6. Veronica

    I'm asking those around me to point out every time I curse. I'll put $.25 cents in a jar for each swear, and at the end of 40 days I'll donate the money to charity. We're 15 hours into Lent, and I've already "raised" $1.25.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  7. kuwait_999

    Only Trinity God can help me giving up my selfishness, self center.

    In Jesus I trust... in my Trinity god, I pray.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • lmao what god

      lmfao k bro

      March 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  8. Samantha

    I'm giving up all soda (I'm addicted to diet coke) and starbucks drinks (also addicted). As a college student I have no doubt it will be a bit challenging, especially during late night cramming sessions and morning-after-nearly-all-nighters, but Jesus gave up his life for me so the least I can do is make this small sacrifice. In the past, things I've given up for lent have led to life-style changes and since these drinks are so fattening and included way to much in my diet, I'm hoping to make this permanent.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Julie

      I gave up Dr. Pepper 5 years ago on Lent. I would have three 44 ounce drinks just at work alone and I always thought that is what got me through my day. Well after those 40 days I had lost 10 pounds and had more energy than I knew what to do with. The only bad part were the headaches from not having it but I got over it. I still have not touched a Dr. Pepper and I swear I am addicted to water now. It is amazing how much better I feel without the "Doctor" in my life. Good luck......you can do it.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  9. Hooser Catholic

    Learn about catholic beliefs.
    http://on-this-rock.blogspot.com/
    a lot of good info.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Emily

    Giving something up for lent is a sacrifice you are making and should be kept between you and God. Going around telling people what you are giving up makes it not count in a way. It should be a private thing, a time to reflect on your life and choices. Just throwing that out there. God Bless.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  11. Catholic&AgnosticHouseHold

    I can't believe what I'm reading. I am Catholic and getting ready to go to church soon. My husband is an agnostic and he has never insulted me the way people are insulting Christians on this blog and I have never insulted him back. Albeit we do have our occasional theological discussions but we never belittle each other. The world (and the CNN comments page) would be such a better place if we accepted our differences in opinion. I know I started in my household. Peace!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mike in Wisconsin

      Thank you for you comment. I am a Humanist very much like your husband. I simply don't think creating adversity between people based on religion is right. We need to respect each other and value each other for being fully human. If that means you believe in some things like religion - fine with me. I don't make that choice and thank you for not harassing me. I think you have true respect for your husband and he has the same respect for you! Great relationship I say! 🙂

      March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Wes

      Because the christian church has been so forgiving towards the beliefs of others throughout history, right? Religion will always be man's most distructive creation......period.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Doug

      @Wes: So, you think that all current Christians are responsible for the failings of all previous generations? That's just as hypocritical as the historical wrongdoings of Christianity. Which, by the way, are the fault of people, rather than the religion itself.

      The lady who posted this comment has a point, and you are the proof of that point.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Catholic&AgnosticHouseHold

      @Mike in Wisconsin: Thank you so much! Yeah he is like that, I go to church and he stays home playing video games and we are okay with that. It's all about respect 🙂
      @Wes: 1) Yeah my husband has brought up that same argument in our theological discussions, this is nothing new and I don't disagree, it's in the history books and it sucks (people hiding behind Jesus to do wrong) 2) that doesn't mean I'm like that, you're stereotyping 3) I'm okay with my husband's point of view, and he respects mine, that's all that matters 🙂
      "Be the change that you want to see in the world" -Gandhi

      March 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Catholic&AgnosticHouseHold

      @Doug: Thank you! 🙂

      March 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  12. Emma

    nOT CHRISTINITY YOU CAN'T JUST GIVE UP A RELIGION ESPECIALY CHRSTIANITY AS THE POINT OF LENT IS TO FOCUS ON GOD AND IF YOU GIVE UP CHRISTIANITY YOU CAN'T

    March 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Emma, can you turn off you Caps Lock, please. thanks.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  13. woodie

    I'm giving up commenting on news stories. Doh!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  14. Kate

    I am Catholic and this Lent I will be taking up two things instead of giving up something. I am going to walk a couple of miles at least 4 times a week and I am going to be better about going to Mass. 😀

    March 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  15. jeff

    giving up the belief blogs for lent...

    grace and peace,

    -jeff

    March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  16. Big Pimpin'

    I've given up Lent for Lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  17. Carelvys

    Dear author – Lent isn't about "giving up" things. It's about what you do to better yourself, other people, etc., etc. Learn about Lent before you write about it.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  18. THERE IS NO

    GOD

    March 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Chloe Morgan

      Then why do you read religious articles?

      March 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE HIM THEN YOU GOTO

      HELL

      March 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Catholic 14 yr. old

      prove it

      March 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • appalled

      I'm with you. Wish the rest of the world was. Would be a much better place to live without all these fables, myths & fairy tales. Glad I'm among the "thinkers."

      March 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • HOWEVER

      turn your life and submit to him will give you the eternal life forever and ever PERIOD.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • lmao what god

      HERRRR DERP

      March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Wes

      Religion will eventually be remembered as the most distructive creation of man. Christianity is no different from the greek and roman mythologies, one day people will realize that there is no god and christianity will only be studied for historical purposes.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • TO PROVE IT,

      THE ANSWER IS IN THE BIBLE. The choice is your whether you want to end up in Hell where there is a total or absolute abysmal agony or in a place where there is a endless joy. God saved me 2 times in my past 26 years of life.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • EVERYTHING

      around the World is happening exactly according to the Bible; especially in Revelations.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Doug

      Whether or not you believe in God is irrelevant. Yes, this article is about a religious practice, but it is more about how people experience this practice than about the religion itself. Since there is a very large Christian population in America, it is entirely valid for a news organization to run a human interest article about it. Just as it would be fitting to run articles about Islam, Santeria, or Atheism (or any other religion or belief structure).

      These forums shouldn't be used as a soapbox for one's personal opinion. Bad Form.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  19. v

    I belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church which is one of the oldest forms of Christianity. In our church, lent is a time to turn inward and reflect upon our lives, improve our relationships with God and with others and for self-sacrifice. We deprive ourselves of watching t.v. or listening to the radio as much as possible and we give up all animal products, basically we go vegan for forty days. It is a time for renewal, spending time in the scriptures and at church services and by the time the forty days are up, one truly feels revived from the inside out. In the middle east, this type of self-sacrifice is practiced among both Orthodox and Catholics. But here in the states, some of these rules seem to have been loosened up. Also, many people refrain from eating or drinking anything until noon, some do not use any type of cooking oil in preparing their meals and we refrain from olive oil and eating fish only on most days. We have probably the strictest fast but it truly is a rewarding one.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Emma 12

      i AM A CATHOLIC APASTOLIC CHRISTIAN AND FOR US LENT IS ABOUT GIVING THINGS UP TO GET CLOSER TO gOD. sOME PEOPLE JUST TAKE IT AS A jOKE AND SAY THAT THEY ARE GIVING UP A RELIGION E.G. cHRISTIANITY BUT THAT IS LKE BEING DESPECTFUL TO GOD AND IF YOU DID GIVE IT UP GOD WOULD STILL LOVE YOU AND WILL NOT GIVE UP ON YO . i AM GIVING UP ANY SNAKS SO I AM ONLY ALLOUD TO EAT BREAKFAST LUNCH AND DINNER AND NOTHING INBETWEEN i AM ALLSO GOING TO READ MY BIBLE AND SPEND MY TIME GETTING CLOSER TO GOD

      March 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Albert

      My friend,your fasting is not the most strict as you claim..I am a Religous studies historian here is what I have to say.Fasting is not new to to the monothiestic faiths; it is, indeed, as old as Adam who was the first creature to submit to God. No one knows precisely when fasting began among Adam's progenies but it is the practice of all the "Prophets of God" and their followers. Religous text inidcates that Moses fasted for 40 days (this is what the Jews termed "Jewish Passover") and David used to fast for half of the year (this involves fasting on every alternate day). Jesus was also reported to have fasted for 40 days (this is what the christians termed "the Lent", usually observed before Easter festival). Since these Prophets were all sent to earth by the one an donly God, it can be seen that Muslim fasting is the most strict and consistant since it intends to draw their attention to the practice and tradition of those pious predecessors who attained piety (in God's sight) through fasting.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  20. ahem

    Can anyone explain why the media will capture your face in the worst possilble frame and then use the picture as a headline? The guy in this one is obviously in the middle of a word, and he looks stupid like that. I would be less than pleased to say the least.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Charlie Sheen

      Probably a troll.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 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.