I’m going to post occasional extracts from the novel I’ve been writing, partly to give myself the motivation to finish the thing. So what follows is the Prelude. But first a little explanation. It runs on two timelines, a modern story and one set in the time of the Cathar Crusade.
My name is Philibert. I was born on the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene. I was once a shepherd, then I became a weaver of cloth. I knew good and evil, and I could tell the difference. I met good men and good women. I saw terrible things done by terrible men. Then I learned how to lie. I learned how to do whatever one must do in this world to stay alive. I no longer know why.
I am a sinner, and I know my sins. Things I have done are always part of me, they come back to me. I know that forgiveness does not come from the priest, from confession, because my memories continue to punish me, even after many penances. To tell the truth, when I speak the words of penance they mean nothing to me. The Bonnes Hommes (whom some call perfecti, Cathars or heretics, according to their prejudices) say they are empty speech, formulas without power.
I have within me the power to forgive others; I cannot forgive myself. Only God can forgive me.
I once thought He would.