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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. kloslo

    When the Seven Seal is opened the one true god Crom will come out of the ocean on an electric dolphin, and if you don't know the riddle of steel,he will kill you with a tsunami of radioactive pork!!!

    March 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  2. kloslo

    When the Seven Seal is opened the one true god Crom will come out of the ocean on an electric dolphin, and if you don't know the riddle of steel,he will kill you with a tsunami of radioactive pork.

    March 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  3. JCizzle

    For lent, I am giving up hooking up with single women, they get too attached too quickly. For that reason, I will only be sleeping with married women for the duration of Lent.

    March 13, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  4. gottagetgoin

    I gave up the Catholic Church and their BS. God doesn't exist there anyway. All those sick pedophiles have done is cause destruction and betrayal to good people.

    March 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  5. ed

    lent is about you getting closer to GOD and making a difference for the better of mankind.i pray you all make a good confession and become closer to GOD

    March 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  6. ThomasPaine

    Well last year I gave up lint for Lent, this year I will step it up a notch and give up Lent for Lent. Yay!! Next year I plan on giving up Christianity for Lent. Eat it!!

    March 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Coleen

    I gave up Spider Solitaire, because I played it every morning when I woke up-it was sort of an addition. And I have always known I need to get back to the Bible first thing in the morning like I use to do years ago. Day two and I have not played Spider Solitaire!

    March 11, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  8. Rosanne

    I'm giving up multi-tasking.

    March 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  9. nietzsche

    What is the point of temporarily giving up something just to satisfy an empty tradition, if you are just going to go back to it after its all over? You aren't even coming close to "Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert before beginning his ministry." Is this just something to make you feel better? Do you really think giving up something does you any good? Giving up one thing for 40 days doesn't make you a better person, and it doesn't justify you. It's just a needless, futile restriction. You want to know what Jesus did during his 40 days? He sought the face of God. Try doing the same.

    March 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  10. Amanda Grey

    For Lent I usually don't do anything special. But this year I'm keeping a journal for things to meditate on and I am going to focus on identifying in writing my weaknesses and sins so that I can work on them. I know what they are, but I haven't really confronted them and I want to be a better person.

    Another thing I'm doing for Lent is intending. Like in yoga where they say "if you can't reach your toes, intend to reach your toes and eventually you'll get there" so I am intending to be a more open person and not let the bitterness of life weigh me down so much. I'm turning into an old bitter hag at 33 and I don't want that. So I'm intending to turn away from from it and intending to reach for openness and kindness, living with an open heart – even if that means being reckless. Because this is how Jesus lived. He lived recklessly with love and kindness and did things people didn't expect. I want to be more like that and not let this life, work, people turn me into your average jaded human.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Lisa

      Good for you Amanda! That is really the spirit of Lent. I, too, am trying to live more "intentially". I've been working on it for a few weeks, and I'm hoping to renew myself "again" during Lent. I'll pray for your success, and for Nani's (above), during this Lenten season.

      March 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  11. Nani

    People forget that Lent is not about "giving up" something, but about reflecting on our relationship with God, almsgiving, and about making our lives more God-like by abstaining from sin and hopefully continue on not sinning after Lent. So instead of doing the usual giving up of sugars, alcohol, meat, etc., try fasting from judging others, fast from anger, fast from hostility, fast from gossip, attend mass more frequently, right a wrong, sponsor a just cause, tender a compliment, give alms, spread joy. I think you get the picture. So I plan to fast from all the things I listed. Happy Lent.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  12. Mary

    Since I am Eastern Orthodox, I got a head start on all you Catholics; Lent for us started with Forgiveness Vespers last Sunday. =p In addition to the usual "no meat, no dairy, no alcohol, no oil" Eastern fasting guidelines, I'm trying to focus on setting aside those things that add noise to my life. Not just physical noise, but mental and spiritual noise as well. My thoughts jerk my mind and my soul around in so many different directions it's difficult to let go of my own will and actually listen to what God is trying to say to me.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  13. Jim

    I am giving up Catholicism !

    March 10, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Amused

      I'll drink to that!

      March 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Derek

    I'm giving up celebacy. I've been deployed for over 8 months, and spent 10 months of 2010 away from home. I plan on spending lent enjoying every second of my R&R leave with my wife and as much time as possible trying to make up for lost time with each other. I think that's what Jesus'd do.

    March 10, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Sandra Butler

      I agree, I like that.... you enjoy your time together and be blessed! Thank you for your kind service... are you sure you should return?? Ask Him if He has other plans for you meanwhile, you might be pleasantly surprized that you do not have to return and be away again! I pray for that for you. Blessings and Shalom.

      March 10, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  15. Jayci

    I grew up and was married as an Episcopalian, but am not strict on the faith. While I might not believe and/or follow the Bible fervently, I do follow Lent. I think it's good to actively try and give something up that is a vice. You can re-focus on the positives in life, and hopefully that will spread to others... Giving up looking at gossip websites and gossiping in general... and candy.

    March 10, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  16. Josh

    I am giving up watching/listening/reading CNN for lent. Plus, I am forgoing buying anything from any of CNN's advertisers.

    March 10, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  17. Iman Athiest

    All religeons are pure fairytales. There is no god of any kind.

    March 10, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Pastor Dan

      If you are so sure of that, why do you post on the "Belief Blog"? Seems to me that somebody is searching. I pray that The God of Heaven and Earth will speak to you in a mighty way! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Christ died for everyone including athiests. May you find Him today!

      March 10, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • justaperson

      @Pastor Dan: haha, he's no searching; he just likes laughing at the sorts of things people like you say. That's the only reason I ever read the comments in the Belief Blog...heck, I barely even read the articles before I giggle over all the comments!

      March 10, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Sandra Butler

      "The fool has said in his heart (and publicly) there is no God". I am sure you are no fool, you just need to think about what you are saying and look around you at creation, your body, etc, Someone made it all, Someone who loves you enough to have given you life and the opportunity at eternal life through Himself Yeshua! Keep seeking Him, and you will find Him! He promises that!

      March 10, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  18. Ron C Clair

    I'm thinking about giving up watermelon

    March 10, 2011 at 6:18 am |
    • yan

      lol,give up watermelon ,great ,i support you and give me all your watermelon ,i will help you to solve them lolz~~~

      March 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  19. WOW!

    i already gave up shopping 3 months ago since i dont have the money for it. I already did time ahead of time...yay!
    TAKE THAT SUCKERS!!!!!!!!!

    March 10, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  20. Elaine Bessette

    In case anyone wants to know something beyond the Christian-lite version of 'giving up something for Lent', try reading Isaiah 58 to better understand the meaning of fasting, according to Jesus' own culture.

    If something ought to be given up, why not political rhetoric, gossip, laziness, self-importance, judging others, etc.? You get the picture... it's not about dieting and telling everyone just how good you are for your petty little self-sacrifice; it's about refocusing for a better perspective.

    March 10, 2011 at 3:56 am |
    • Nacho1

      Since I am Roman Catholic.................I am giving up Islam......................

      March 10, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • KACNN

      Lent is just as profound as Christmas, when you are Catholic. Learning what you can live without is just as important as the spirit of giving. Lent may sound like a miserable process, but it will teach you the importantance of modesty and humility. I think that it is a mistake not to give it a try.

      March 10, 2011 at 12:44 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.