Lent as a Latter-day Saint: What I’m Giving Up and What I’m Adding

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I’m not Catholic, but I love those who are.

I am an active Latter-day Saint (Mormon), but my parents were both raised Catholic. Neither of them practiced the religion – and my mother was actually baptized into a different religion later in life – but when I was born they had me christened. I have the privilege of having godparents, friends of my parents who love and support me. One of the first prayers I learned was “Our Father.” When my maternal grandmother passed away I inherited one of her rosaries and it hung on my bedpost where I saw it each morning and night. Because of these ties to Catholicism, my ears always prick up when I hear about the pope, Christmas mass, or Lent.

A Mormon gal shares what she's giving up (and adding instead) for Lent |

Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. Crosses drawn with ash on participants’ foreheads symbolize their 40-day commitment. The Lenten commitment reminds participants of the 40-day fast Jesus Christ participated in while in the desert and acts as a reminder to draw closer to him through your own willful sacrifice. A quick internet search on “popular things to give up for Lent” produces a treasure trove of ideas, ranging from the classic (chocolate and alcohol) to the quirky (school and religion). Using profanity, eating junk food, and jumping on social media are high up on the list.

Let’s support our Christian brothers and sisters.

While, as a group, Latter-day Saints don’t observe the Lenten traditions, I want to support my Christian brothers and sisters who are participating in Lent. I have heard it can be a truly positive experience, bringing you closer to God. So, with that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of ideas of what we can not only give up but also add to our Lenten participation to help us focus on Jesus Christ’s atonement and resurrection.

Draw near unto me, says the Lord. |

What We Can Give Up for Lent

Judging and criticizing others

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Withholding compliments

Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. (See 2 Ne. 9:42.) There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous. (emphasis added)

-President Ezra Taft Benson

Speaking harshly to our children

[…] We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that ‘Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,’ but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are ‘enough.’

-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Pessimism and negativity

I come … with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.

I am not asking that all criticism be silent. Growth comes with correction. Strength comes with repentance. Wise is the man or woman who, committing mistakes pointed out by others, changes his or her course. I am not suggesting that our conversation be all honey. Clever expression that is sincere and honest is a skill to be sought and cultivated. What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism. Let our faith replace our fears.

-President Gordon B. Hinckley

What We Can Add for Lent


In the New Testament we read often that Christ was ‘moved with compassion’ upon the people as He responded to their needs. He had compassion when He saw that they were hungry and He fed them, or when they were sick and He healed them, or when they were in need of spiritual enrichment and He taught them.

Compassion means to feel love and mercy toward another person. It means to have sympathy and desire to relieve the suffering of others. It means to show kindness and tenderness toward another.

The Savior has asked us to do the things which He has done, to bear one another’s burdens, to comfort those who need comfort, to mourn with those who mourn, to feed the hungry, visit the sick, to succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and to ‘teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.’ […]

-Sister Barbara Thompson


And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

-King Bejamin as found in Mosiah 2:17


Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul. Think of it: the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father. Actually, because He knows how desperately we need His guidance, He commands, “Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.”

-Elder Richard G. Scott

Scripture study

Whichever way a person starts studying the scriptures, the key to unlocking important knowledge is to keep studying. I never tire of discovering the rich treasures of truth in the scriptures because they teach with “plainness, even as plain as word can be” (2 Ne. 32:7). The scriptures testify of Christ (see John 5:39). They tell us all things we should do (see 2 Ne. 32:3). They “make [us] wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15).

-Sister Julie B. Beck

Temple attendance

As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Such peace can permeate any heart—hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help.

-President Thomas S. Monson

Want to learn more about Latter-day Saint (Mormon) temples? Click here.

Wholesome music

As the years passed I found that, while not easy, I could control my thoughts if I made a place for them to go. You can replace thoughts of temptation, anger, disappointment, or fear with better thoughts—with music.

I love the sacred music of the Church. The hymns of the Restoration carry an inspiration and a protection.

-President Boyd K. Packer

For my Lenten participation, I’ll focus on being less pessimistic and negative and add more wholesome music in throughout my day. 

{Read about how it went here.}

I’m interested in hearing what you’ll be giving up or adding for the 44 days of Lent. Share your goals in a comment below.

Kicking off Lent as a Latter-day Saint. |

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