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Rose wrote:

Hi, guys —

I asked this question on Face book:

  • What are you giving up for Lent?

Shortly afterward, a mutual friend wrote:

You're supposed to keep your sacrifices to yourself — don't tell!

I googled my question and found many blogs with people sharing their ideas. I thought this is how we learn . . . from each other.

Another friend wrote:

I didn't know you weren't supposed to tell what you are giving up for Lent. I went to a Catholic school for a few years and the teachers often asked us during the Lenten season what we were giving up.  Whether you shared or not was your own personal choice.

I think I may give up about five or ten pounds; I'm not sure yet  : ) I know that during Lent I always feel especially bonded to Christ through the small sacrifices
I do make and that is something worth sharing!

  • What is wrong with sharing ideas?

I don't mean to encourage bragging or to bolster one's pride but to share and learn from each other.

After reflecting and praying on this subject, I think it is okay to share with others what one is planning for Lent. It helps that person to keep their promise for 40 days. However, at the end of the 40 days, if that person boastfully tells everyone what they did, that is when they are going against the Bible. I need help and support to get through these 40 days.

Nevertheless, my friend is insisting that I am wrong.

  • Am I?
  • What is the rule on this?

Thank you,


  { Are you supposed to keep your Lenten sacrifices a secret or is it OK to tell others? }

John replied:

Hi, Rose —

There is no rule regarding this matter. The Lord does warn us not perform our acts of sacrifice or charity in a public manner, in order to receive the praise of others, but that has to do with the intention one has behind sharing what they've done.

If one is sharing it so people will be impressed with them, then it's wrong, but that's something you need to judge for yourself.

Only you know your motivation. Other than that, there is no reason not to share.


Mary Ann replied:

Rose —

It doesn't matter if you tell or not tell.  Some penances are obvious, for instance, but there should be something you keep between yourself and God, so that you don't already receive your reward from the admiration of others (as Jesus spoke of the Pharisees, who were admired for their fasting and almsgiving).

With charity work, don't let everyone know. With penances, when you share them, the expectations of others can be a drag on fulfilling them, but for the ones that involve other people in some way, charity is the rule.

If you can't hide your penance, then tell them so as to avoid insulting them, or break your penance so as to avoid offending them (if, for instance, you are at a dinner party, take a little of what the hostess offers).

Mary Ann

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