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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. Agha Ata (USA)

    I have given up my all hopes on god and Jesus, hell and heaven or in life after death. I am a pantheist. Please believers do not bother to pray for me. I am happy as I am. Thank you!

    March 9, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Tony

      You're soooooooo cool!

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

      He will never give up on you though. Always remember that.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Maryann

      Mark has assured you that invisible sky man will stalk you whether you like it or not.

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

      The flying spaghetti monster is watching you Mark. Reach out and touch his noodley appendage and then you too will know true happiness. RAmen.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  2. Sara

    I am giving up going off on my husband and bringing up the nasty girl he slept with over the summer. It's not healthy for me and my kids. I can not change his stupidity and not change that a worthless woman was part of his decision. But I can change my thoughts and feelings so that in the end I'm happy and healthy in my mind and heart.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • LOL

      Sounds like you're still pretty bitter to me. Why do you hold 'the woman' in such contempt anyway? It was your husband that was supposed to be faithful.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Sara

      I am but I'm praying for the bitterness to go away. They both knew what they were doing. And I do hold him in contempt a lot more then I do her, trust me he gets the brunt of my bitterness almost everyday since it happened. But I'm not going to allow it anymore, I want me back.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  3. SilverFox

    I am a proud Catholic but not blind, being I am gay and we all know how the Catholic Religion looks down this, but regardless, I will be giving up my weekly gambling habit, Facebook, and just be a better person towards my friends and enemies.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  4. ANGIE1

    I will be giving up 2 things (I'm not Catholic btw but it does help me focus more on things that are important); 1.)Alcohol and I spend a lot of time on line and in front of the computer researching my ancestry. And I do mean LOTS!! This will allow me to get some much needed winter to spring closet change and start my list for Spring cleaning and having more time to study the scripture.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  5. the end

    I'm giving up supersticians. Oh wait... I gave that up already.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  6. bob

    I'm going to stop being so damn nice to people.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  7. Sunshine

    It is not necessarily about giving up something. I have found that I can do without a lot of the stuff everyone is giving up. A few years ago I decided that instead of giving up something I would do something extra for my faith. This year I am working on Mind, body and sprit. For my mind I am going to try to learn something new. For my body, I am off to the gym every day for lent. For my sprit, I am going to say a rosary every day.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Hey, for your personal industry you are giving up one of the seven deadly sins, sloth... 🙂 good for you, really!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  8. sarahrhs

    What's with the use of the word "nod"? I will never understand why people insist on not finding a better term. Not only that, but Lent is not a "nod" so to use that term is trivializing it. Lent is supposed to reconnect us back to Christ, to remind us of the suffering endured by Christ and of others. It's not a bleepin' "nod."

    March 9, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  9. Joe

    I will be giving up nothing for lent as I am not crazy enough to have bought into the christian propaganda machine. Christianity promotes intolerance, hatred, and violence.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Hey just like you are spewing hate and intollerance against Christians – wow and you're doing doing it with out using religion, all by your lonesome – we all are so proud of you...

      March 9, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Dro

      I am sorry you feel that way. It is sad that the beauty and uplifting message of Christ has been perceived that way by a some bad examples. I guess it can also be said of science, technology, the press, and pretty much everything else we have at our disposal.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • LOL

      He's intolerant of intolerance. If that makes sense to you. Stop trying to make other people live the way you want to live and we will be more tolerant of you. Imagine that.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  10. MC

    I've given up coffee for Lent. I don't drink it for the caffeine boost anymore, but more for the pleasure of drinking sugar water in the morning. Unnecessary ritual.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • LOL

      Unnecessary ritual? Almost everything a christian does could qualify as that!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  11. Susan

    I am taking the Lutheran approach and giving up nothing. Why give it up for just a few weeks?

    March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Geoff

      As a Lutheran, while it is not taught that you have to give something up, it is accepted as a practice if the individual decides that they want to. The Lutheran Church leaves it up the individual Christian to make the choice whether to give something up. There is no right or wrong choice, but it is an acceptable practice.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  12. Lovin'Life

    I am so confused about Lent. I have never done Lent before. What's the point of giving something up if you are just going to do it again when Lent is over. And is it just a Catholic thing – bc I am not Catholic.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Jim

      You don't have to give something up for Lent. Instead you could do something nice for someone each day. The point of Lent is to either make a sacrifice for God or to do something God like. As Christians we strive to do something good every day and Lent just reinforces our commitment.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  13. ann

    Lent is a practice that was not observed at the church I attended growing up. I had not heard of it until I was a little older. I was a bit perplexed as to what it was. After reading about it I found that I did not completely agree with one aspect of it. I was raised along the lines of what Mathew 6 teaches which is that you don't announce what you are doing for others to hear about it. Your right hand should not know what your left hand is doing when helping the needy etc. that those who do announce it to others already have their reward. That specifically regarding fasting, you shouldn't look somber while fasting and disfiguring your face to show others you are fasting. That this is something between you and God. Which I have noticed that some people do keep it quietly to themselves and God. Also I feel that this isn't the only time of year one could fast nor event that Christmas time is the only time to celebrate Jesus birth (it can be done all year long). So anyway that is just my own interpretation of it. I am sure that are other opinions and I always like to hear them.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • clemsondave

      I've thought the same thing about fasting in general myself. However, you do have to remember the context of Jesus' words about fasting. He was speaking to a religious culture that would do things like fasting out of a heart of showing off and being "righteous." As with many things Jesus says, I believe it's what is in your heart when you fast that truly matters–not necessarily whether you told someone about your fasting or not. If you're doing it to gain the praise of men, you'll get that, but that's all you'll get. If you truly desire your heart to be transformed, God will see that even if you told a few folks in order to be held accountable or to simply share life with your community.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  14. JP

    I am giving up everything on my smart phone except calling and texting. I deleted all of my apps. I'm not getting on the internet. I won't be able to check scores or the weather on my phone. Worst of all, I won't be checking my email. Technology is such a big part of people's lives, especially mine. This will give me time to focus on the more important things, especially on prayers and helping others during Lent.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  15. Charlotte

    I gave up cokes a few years ago and to this day only occationally drink a coke...I'm giving up sweets. cookies, cake, candy...all things dessert.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  16. Michael

    Im giving up Weed for Lent and adding to that im making an effort to give a 100% at whatever i do for the next 40 days.
    Its difficult at times to give it all you got with the daily pressures of life, but when u do u sieze the day you were given and have no regrets at the end of the night.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • ron

      sounds like you should give up weed permanently.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  17. Reality

    If you are over 65 and don't practice Lent every day of the year, you get fat so what is the big deal?

    March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  18. Ashy Larry

    I'm giving up lotion and other moisturizers this Wednesday!

    March 9, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  19. Objectively

    Tired of religion and religious fanatics who do not have the sense to see things in perspective in this day and age. Religion is meant as a guide and not apply centuries old traditions (most of which are pretty meaningless today) to this day and age. To sum it: all religiions preach the same thing – basically be good and do good. I promise you that is more than enough to lead a good life.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Joe

      Some people are so simple minded they are incapable of breaking free from the christian oligarchy. The christian church promotes only it's own interests. They want money and power, that is all.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • RangerDOS

      Maybe you should give up imposing your narrow minded view about non-thiesm on everyone else.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Kev

      you know, that's exactly what i thought....all religions basically say be good and do good things.....until i actually started looking into it and saw that it's not true. there's a lot of killing and punishment and stoning etc. mentioned in there that i doubt you can really call "doing good".
      read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. it might explain it better and it might change your views. can't hurt, can it?

      March 9, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  20. Ashley

    I have decided to "shut-down" at 9pm. I will turn off all electronics and go to my room to read, pray and/or just sit. I know not everyone believes in the act of giving up something for Lent, but hopefully my gesture will allow me to spend more time focusing on my relationship with God and not worrying about what everyone else is doing:) I am doing this because my life is hectic and I'm a doer. I hope that by instilling a routine that fosters rest and prayer, I will be able to hear my God and my soul more clearly. I am a believer in Jesus, and so for me, I want to know and engage in my belief on a more intimate level.

    Thanks:)

    March 9, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • edn116

      Very nicely said, Ashley.
      That's a great idea!
      We all need to slow down a bit and make time to pray and listen to what God is trying to say.
      I also will give more reflective time for prayer, and give up some indulgences.
      God is good...all the time!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Kev

      ummm.....yeah.....just sitting there.....in the dark........
      that's not creepy at all!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:20 am |
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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.