While Lent, which started Wednesday, is a very old religious practice, people are finding ways to use new technology to help in its observance.

A site created by a group of friends from southeast Louisiana, http://www.whattogiveup.com, presents some traditional ways that people mark the season, such as giving up alcohol, television or something else. But its main goal is to offer a new approach.

Through a tweet, an email or a Facebook post, each day will bring a new challenge. Some are easy, some are harder, but each “will challenge the things that many of us take for granted,” said one of the friends, Robert Benson, whose web company, Benson Technology, created the site.

As of Ash Wednesday, the site had 3,000 followers, he said.

The first challenge: “Today use your non-dominant hand for tasks such as brushing your teeth and eating.”

Others will include:

  • Buy or prepare a meal for someone who doesn’t expect it.
  • Insert change in a few vending machines.
  • Sleep on anything other than a pillow tonight.
  • Find, watch and share a YouTube video that speaks to you spiritually.

Connect with the project through:

WEBSITE: http://www.whattogiveup.com

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/WhatToGiveUp

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/WhatToGiveUp

On your phone

If giving up your smartphone is not your Lenten fast, Sue Sperry, a public relations manager in the New Orleans area, suggests a handful of apps to help with the Lenten season.

LENTEN MAGNIFICAT COMPANION (Apple iOS, 99 cents): This app features chants, prayers and liturgical texts for Mass and the Vigil.

ICONFESS CONFESSION HANDBOOK AND GUIDE (Apple iOS, $1.99): Designed to help people who are not familiar with the Sacrament of Penance. The church asks every Catholic to go to confession at least once every year during Lent, so use this app if you are unsure how to prepare and receive the Sacrament.

STATIONSOFTHECROSS (Apple iOS, $0.99): As you pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, Ave Maria Press’ app will help you reflect on each station with text and pictures.

LENT FINDER (Android, free): This app helps the user find the date Lent begins and ends, find the days of fasting and briefly describes Lent. Specific fasts that are detailed in the app are the Nineva fast, Great Lent, Apostles fast, Assumption fast and the Nativity fast.

MINUTE MEDITATIONS FOR LENT (Android, Free): This app by best-selling author Kathryn J. Hermes is filled with personal accounts, approachable spirituality and meaningful reflections for Lent.

Contact Leila Pitchford-English at lenglish @the advocate.com.