Faced with difficult decisions and a realisation of the difficulties and dangers she must face, Ximene suffers torments which invade every retrospective moment. She feels that she must not let down all those who believe and trust in her. The enormity of her task disturbs her.
Ximene knows that any attempts she makes to reclaim her inheritance and establish an indepenent Occitan will be resisted by the Church of Rome because of her commitment to re-establishing the Cathar Faith. In her blackest moments she sees herself being captured and executed. She occasionally wonders, Good God forbid, if she is the “second coming”. She is aware she may face outright aggression and worries that she is not equipped to cope with it.
In the worst of Ximene’s torments she is crucified, failing to complete her mission. Even in those moments her concern is that if she is crucified or falls into the hands of the Holy Inquisition, she will achieve nothing for there is no one else to take her place.
And yet, the worst demon she faces is that she is not sure she believes implicitly in what she is being asked to fight, perhaps give her life, for. She certainly believes in Jesus’ message but is unsure wether even her own faith has interpreted the message correctly. She has been taught that the reason Jesus attracted notice was because he was not a carpenters son, as the Church of Rome would have us believe, but the conjoin of many important blood lines, but what blood lines?
Jesus’ message as it has been explained to Ximene is that all God’s are the same. God is simply the infinite force behind the universe. The only difference between different Gods is in mankind’s attempts to convert a vision of undefinable energy into personalsed images. In the message which has been given to Ximene, the same principle applies to rulers. It really does not matter who rules, who is King or Queen for their personality and appearance is irrelevant. Material possessions should be as unimportant to clerics and rulers are they are to the poorest peasant, but if there has to be an administration to regulate the realm and administer justice, then the Roman Empire in which the Emperor serves the senate and through them the people, is as good a model as any other and is certainly one Ximene intends to pursue
Only if a ruler becomes despotic, clearly favours one small group in society and penalises or persecutes others is there justification for replacement of the ruler. The Roman system of limited tenure and election to the highest office offeres the best match with this ideal. However even in Rome, men managed to corrupt the ideal, the elections were controlled and the highest office became hereditary. She is determined to guard against such corruption in any state she might control but has no clear idea how to achieve this or indeed what the processes of control should be
Nevertheless, the ideal should always be one nation, one language, one religion, a worship purely concerned with spiritual unity which has no need of priests, churches, elaborate ceremonials or rich vestments, a ruler who makes decisions for the benefit of all. Jesus’ vision of an ideal world is one in which there is no religion, and no independent nations.
Yet, here she was, engaged in efforts to create an independent Occitan! Was this really what she should be doing?
The question of the identity of God creates no less challenging a problem. Ximene’s education has taught her that the God worshipped by the Roman church is the Devil. More than that… that the Universe was created by the Devil, and that the Devil is Set, Egyptian god of creation, chaos and destruction. Set is of course also God the father and YEWH the god of the Jewish faith. Set is the Bad God but that there is also a Good God. Here is the source of Ximene’s concern. Jesus message is there was only one God, And that is the solution Ximene prefers. She believes there is no need to introduce a second God, even if the creation of the material world was a catastrophic mistake or an accident of infinite severity.
And mysticism. She has been brought up to dislike the mysticism of the Roman Church. Her tutors poured scorn on dogma such as “the Virgin Birth” in which Jesus is supposed to have been conceived and born though Mary’s ear, presumably to avoid any need to mention genitalia. Then there is the “Sacrament of the Eucharist”, in which the congregation is given the body and blood of Jesus to eat, in a form of the ultimate cannibalism. Now however, influenced by her weighty responsibilities, she is questioning her own faith. With a critical eye she perceives a similar, though very different mysticism. The concept of Bad and Good Gods, the special role of the Perfects and their right to administer the blessing of the Consolamentum all now seem to Ximene to surround Jesus’ message with unnecessary mystical overtones.
In addition to what is becoming a crisis of faith, Ximene is weighed down by a belief that nothing planned on this earth can be assured of success. The material world, no matter who created it, is disastrously imperfect. Natural catastrophes such as droughts and floods, famines, pestilences and plagues continually cause frustration and emnity, often destroying the best intentions of the very best people. The human race itself seems to be fatally flawed to be always selfish, giving priority to the accumulation of material possessions, neglecting the need to love and help each other. Will there ever be a chance of dealing with such problems? Nevertheless Ximene accepts that her destiny is to ensure the continuance of the Cathar faith and the protection of the believers in that faith.
She firmly believes that as long as Cathars have sincere faith, they should not be persecuted for that adhering to that faith. She seeks her own consolation that she should create a state, independent of the church of Rome, where every individual is free to worship in according to their own conscience. Ximene doubts that people will listen to her message in the same way they listened to Jesus. The task she is being asked to perform or defining for herself to perfom is in her mind assuming the same proportions as the task which Jesus carried out Substitute Occitan for Judah and Franks for Romans and the situation is essentially the same. Ximene has never chosen to carry this burden, it has been thrust upon her.
In her darkest moments Ximene seeks inspiration from Mary Magdelane, whom she believes was more than an apostle. She was an equal partner and shared Jesus bloodlines. She helped Jesus formulate his teaching. The veneration of the Madonna is of Mary Magdalene not of Mary, Jesus’ mother. She has given dark skin because she was dark skinned. jesus choice of her as a partener symbolises that the final part of Jesus message was that racial differences are as unimportant as religion or nationality. His message is for all peoples and races. For a magical moment in time Magdelene won the support or at least the tolerance of the Roman Emperors. She was the fount of grace, love and mercy, she is the example Ximene vows to follow.
Ximene becomes convinced that to provide protect against religious persecution, either for Cathars or her own derivative of Jesus’ teaching, or both, she will have to use politics and force of arms to establish a new sovereign nation. But if she resorts to using force, if she establishes an independent nation, will that in itself be in conflict with Jesus message. Will that make her no better than her enemies?
She is experiencing her own personal crisis of faith and there is no one to help her resolve it!