Churches including St. Bede in La Cañada Flintridge, St. James in La Crescenta and Holy Family in Glendale added additional services Wednesday to accommodate parishioners, as well as their grade school and high school students.
At 8 a.m. Mass at Holy Redeemer Church in Montrose, Fr. Tim McGowan told parishioners that the fasting and penance asked of Christians in the weeks leading up to Easter are not meant for public show.
“This is the beginning of Lent,” McGowan said. “This is a time of repentance. The important thing now is not what people think about us, but what God knows about us. God’s approval is worth more than all the applause the world can ever give.”
In addition to fasting, traditional Lenten practices including abstaining from meat on Fridays, gathering at local churches for Friday soup suppers and giving up vices or pleasures such as candy and sweets. Christians are also called to pray and reflect on their relationship with God, and with those around them.
As they exited Mass Wednesday, many local church-goers said that they would use Lent as a reason to initiate new, positive behaviors, rather than eliminating old ones.
“With our children we look for ways to give back to the community, look for community-service-oriented activities for them to participate in,” said La Crescenta resident Stacy Toyon.
In the past, she and family members would give something up, Toyon said.
“Now we try and find something a little more substantial,” Toyon said. “I am a breast cancer survivor, so I try and give back to that community.”
Longtime Holy Redeemer parishioners Dolores and Vito Maggipinto said that they will attend daily Mass during Lent, just as they do throughout the year.
“I served the ashes one year and that was a thrill,” Dolores Maggipinto said. “It just meant a lot to me.”