Faith

What to Give Up for Lent, According to Pope Francis

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With Lent underway for many people of faith, some may still be deciding what they should give up. The pope has an interesting suggestion for them.

Many Christians will give up for Lent something they enjoy or value as a sacrifice.

Christians commemorate the 40-day observance of sacrifice and fasting in preparation for Easter. That 40-day sacrifice is symbolic of the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness before his eventual crucifixion.  Christians believe Christ rose from the dead, which is what we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

If you still haven’t decided by now what to give up, or if you feel like you haven’t given up enough, you’re in luck.

Pope Francis, the first pope to use Twitter, has a suggestion for something people should give up: insulting people on social media.

The pope made the suggestion during his Ash Wednesday service in St. Peter’s Square. Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season.

“We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words, which are amplified by the internet,” he said. “Today, people insult each other as if they were saying ‘Good Day.’”

Anybody who has ever used social media knows he right. Our society seems to become more negative by the minute. As someone whose real job involves a good deal of time on social media, I know it as well as anyone. People barely seem to remember how to be polite these days. Some apparently set out to be as mean-spirited as they can be.

I’ve said before there was a time when this wasn’t the case, especially on Facebook. Twitter used to be the place where people went to be rude because their real names weren’t required. Facebook showed (presumably) people’s real names. So on Facebook, at least, people mostly were cordial. But over the years, even the Facebook crowd abandoned their concern about manners.

If rudeness were a sport, plenty of social media users would earn medals.

But maybe some of them might take Francis’ advice and give such behavior up for the remainder of Lent. And maybe even beyond that!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.