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. Jon

    This year I'm giving up religion.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jesse

      Excellent choice, sir. Just make sure to take it past lent and make it permanent.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Shawn


      March 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • don haney

      Jon, You did not give up on religion. You have given up on life. You have given up. You need stop doing anything now or at any other time, because nothing anymore means anything to you in whatever upward/downward spiral you currently are facing. Best of luck in LOST LAND......

      March 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  2. Wes

    Because the christian church has been SO forgiving of the beliefs of others throughout history? Christianity has a stained history of abuse and murder. Religion and gods are man's most distructive creation, one day they will be forgotten and only studied for historical purposes. 5,000 years from now society will laugh at our ignorance.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  3. maria

    It is a SACRIFICE! As Jesus SACRIFCED his life for our sins! What I will sacrifice ? leisure time and I will pray for conversion of all sins for everyone the living and the deceased!

    March 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  4. STLBroker


    March 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  5. G

    Does anybody REALLY know what's awaiting us on the other side ... if God truly exists, where we really came from, no! Just incase He's there waiting, I'm not taking any chances.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Playing the safe odds, gets you the worst returns.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  6. jmb

    Dan G – Could you possibly get any more transactional? What a horrible, oversimplified distortion of asceticism you're promoting here. It's journalism like this that makes Christians look foolish. Sure, it's one blog post and you can't get too deep into the real meanings of things, but it's like you didn't even try.

    The one commenter who criticized people for "giving up what you should probably give up anyway" actually has a point, and we Christians should stop and think about that for a moment. (Someone mentioned giving up online gaming. Wonderful, I'd agree, that's probably a stumbling block for living a life in Christ. But when Lent is over, does that mean you're going back to it?)

    I am trying to "give up" anything that makes me stumble. Yes, I admit that probably includes ranting on blog comments, so I'll stop now.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  7. Michelle N.

    I'm giving up candy bars. I recently quit smoking and have noticed a steep incline in the amount of candy I eat. If I can give up cigarettes I can surely give up candy bars!

    March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  8. Paul S

    I agree with Alex. Jesus as one good close friend I have spoken about above, told me, spent half his ministry wining and dining. live it up enjoy.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  9. Kevin

    I do not give up anything during Lent but what I do do is I read the Holy Bible more and I pray more. Being in touch with God is the most important thing you can do during this Holy season, I believe and reading the Bible and praying helps me in this effort.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  10. Paul S

    Also I am not convinced Jesus died for our sins, his death was not sacrificial, I believe it was totally politcal.
    Rome wanted him out of the way period. end of story. He died as one good friend told me once, for political
    reasons not theological ones. and Herod may be innocent of murdiering the first born.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  11. Loretta Hallock

    It's not necessary to give something up for Lent it is much better to do something good for someone.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  12. Jon the Atheist

    Help make the world a better place, give up religion for lent!

    March 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth.

      Colossians 1:16.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm |


      March 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm |


      March 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  13. Dave

    I gave up man made organized religion for science and exploration. It seems to get easier every year.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • BLS

      You've obviously never worked in science.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Nonimus

      lol, nice!

      March 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  14. Richxx

    Uuuuuhhhhh – nothing , don't believe in fables. Now if you were to add "twas the night before Christmas" poem as a book of the bible I might believe. There would then be one book without violence.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  15. Anthony

    I'm giving up one if the 2 things I enjoy the most Starbucks and my iPhone, since I have a wife and kids the phone stays do I guess it's you Starbucks.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  16. Legman

    You're giving you your right to do what some child molesting priest tells you NOT to do!!!

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

      Child molesters/pedophiles are everywhere. They are in any race, religion, profession, man or woman. We should be fair and stop stereotyping.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Aja

      Those child molesting priests are undercover Atheists doing those horrible acts of sin So you atheists can say mediocre things like that. They are better at being atheists. I Suggest they stop trying to be priests and I highly recommend you and your Hell Bound Souls to come get them all and to tell them to give up because molesting kids is not going to help them turn the world against Christians.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Nonimus

      That's a 9.5, for diffuculty and a 6.0 for execution in today's mental gymnatics.

      Tomorrow, how the Native Americans were actually undercover British Soldiers.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Sorry, that was @Aja.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  17. Manny

    Boy, atheist sure are an angy bunch.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Publius 13

      It kind of does seem that way.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  18. Pete H

    From the looks of these posts, atheists seem to have a few things in common; they're bitter. They're angry. They're unhappy and want others to be that way too.

    A Christian doesn't need to prove anything. Faith is just that way. Athiests, on the other hand, always seem have to prove they're right. Unfortunately, they can't do that due to the limited nature of human understanding. Maybe that's why they're so bitter, angry, and unhappy; made more so, being they can't seem to make a dent in a Christian's faith. What a way to live. What do atheists do for hope?...

    God loves you all.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Actually, we want Christians to stop pushing their fairytales on everyone else in the form of legislation. Stop trying to get school prayer in schools, stop pushing anti-abortion legislation, stop gay bashing and your bigotry against other religions. You would be angry too if every time you turned around, somone was trying to force their moral values on you.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      That's because non-believers don't know Ezekiel 18:4.


      March 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Tracie

      I am a Christian, and I agree with Luis. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state, and do not approve of prayer in public schools. I also am pro-choice and have many wonderful friends who are gay, and I will gladly dance at their weddings! So you see, not all Christians are right-wing fundies.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Lulu

      @ LuisWu – I'm christian. I do not believe in school prayer unless the school is private & religion is its basis. I believe abortion is wrong because, having been pregnant & having heard my children's ultrasounds @ mere weeks' gestation, I know that babies are alive in the womb. Killing a child for convenience is the worst form of murder. I do not bash gays – the should have the same rights as straights, as should all in the LGBT community. Or Muslims. Or atheists. Or Mormons, scientologists, Hindus or any other group. Just because certain so-called 'religions' make a big fuss about their version of morality, don't paint all others with that same broad brush.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Lois

      Very good, Pete ! Agree – feel sorry for, and pray for them.

      March 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  19. 50Cent

    I gave up eating leprechauns

    March 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • JoeJoe9

      I'm giving up eating atheists

      March 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      JoeJoe9 – I'm an atheist... eat me.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Zeni

      Interesting... This article is about Ash Wednsday a religious day, and There are Athiests who had to read it. ooooohhhh I see God in you guys.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jon

      I'm giving up ash on my forehead for Lent.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I realize there is cannibalism in Christianity, at least symbolically, but society generally doesn't approve.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  20. NOLA Ex-Pat

    I'm giving up Facebook and cutting back smoking for Lent. I've decided to volunteer at a local nursing home a few days a week and will be making a point of attending Mass every Sunday (and Wednesday, if I'm off work in time.)

    March 9, 2011 at 2:58 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.