Pope Francis wants you to give up being a jerk online for Lent

Cherlynn Low
Reviews Editor
Remo Casilli / Reuters

Forget quitting smoking or cutting carbs from your diet. If you're thinking of something to give up this Lent, which starts today (Ash Wednesday), Pope Francis has a surprisingly modern suggestion. During the weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square today, the Pope told the 12,000 people gathered to "disconnect from cell phones and connect to the Gospel," according to Vatican News, the Holy See's information service. This Lent, Pope Francis said, "is a time in which to turn off the television and open the Bible."

Back in the day when Pope Francis himself was a child, his family didn't have a television, but they would make it a point not to listen to the radio. Keeping the chatter to a minimum can better help the faithful connect with and hear the word of God, he said. The internet makes this difficult, he added, as it amplifies the "offensive and harmful words" people throw around, creating an environment that is "polluted by too much verbal violence."

If you find yourself furiously typing angry comments into YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit or whatever your preferred platform to spew is, consider taking a moment to pause. For those practicing the Catholic faith, Lent is a period of abstinence, fasting, repentance and reflection, and it is common to give up something for the 40-day season. Typical sacrifices include excessive spending, unhealthy foods or bad habits, but holding your tongue, or in this case, fingers, could be a good option.