Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris…
Remember [man] that you are dust and unto dust you shall return…
Sometimes a cross is traced on the forehead with ashes. Sometimes ashes are sprinkled on the head, as is the case here with Pope Benedict XVI, Ash Wednesday 2013, the last major public event of his pontificate.
The pedagogical, medicinal punishment for original sin is death. We’re not so tough after all, are we? No. We’re not. We will all die. We do need a Savior.
It is that death that the Lord took on Himself so as to have the right in justice to have mercy on us. Apart from His grace, we hate goodness and kindness, as we think it is incriminating, instead of an invitation, and so we have to kill that goodness and kindness to get it out of the way of our perspective, leaving us to what we are most comfortable with, our caving in upon ourselves in all egoism and darkness, distraction for the sake of distraction.
In justice, He doesn’t release us from the just effects of original sin, such as death, but, by His grace, He gives us the wherewithal to be good and kind and… and… to go to heaven, where all effects of sin will fall away.
Mercy is founded on justice, is a potential part of the virtue of justice as Saint Thomas Aquinas says in his commentary on the Sentences. Mercy is majestic because of the justice upon which it is founded.
We see the glory of the Lord, the greatness of His love for us, whilst He hangs upon the Cross.
Our Lord love us so very much.