Much like his peers at Pinecrest Academy, Carter Pritchett is a 5-year-old brimming with energy and ideas.
He likes playing on the playground and learning about Christmas. His favorite color is blue, and he’s partial to his trusty shark blanket, which he pulled Wednesday afternoon from a cubbyhole outside his classroom, presenting it proudly.
When asked about the ashes on his forehead, he said it’s simple, really.
“It’s so that Jesus knows we’re his friend,” Pritchett said, punctuating the words with a sunny smile.
Pritchett was among other children, teachers and parents who participated in Ash Wednesday at Pinecrest. Young people in High School, the Lower School and Middle School celebrated the beginning of Lent — or the season of fasting and prayer.
Father David Steffy, president of Pinecrest Academy, explained Lent as “the liturgical season of the church with 40 days of preparation — as Moses prepared 40 days for the Ten Commandments and Jesus prepared in the desert 40 days before he received his baptism.”
Added Steffy: “The 40 days are significant as a preparation time of repentance for sin and openness to the resurrection and salvation.”
Steffy said he enjoys teaching the lesson to children at the school because “they’re so young and innocent … it’s beautiful to see how they’re open to new things and open to learning and open to the Lord and heaven.”
Father Matthew Kaderabek, L.C. (Legionaries of Christ), described Ash Wednesday as “the in which we get back to the basics. I like to call it spring training. It’s back to the fundamentals, and the fundamentals of Christian life are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.”
Kaderabek said that during this time all Catholics aim to “make an effort to come up with a resolution in each one of these areas to improve their prayer life with Christ or their friendship with Christ.”
Pritchett said he enjoys this tradition and many others at the local, private PreK through 12th grade college preparatory Catholic school.
“It’s just so much fun,” Pritchett remarked Wednesday, opening and shutting the sharp-toothed mouth of his shark blanket. It was unclear whether it was his blanket or the notion of Ash Wednesday that he referred to. He seemed very happy nonetheless.