On January 21, with the murder of the King-priest, was consummated what has significantly been called the passionof Louis XVI. It is certainly a crying scandal that the public assassination of a weak but goodhearted man has been presented as a great moment in French history. That scaffold marked no climax—far from it. But the fact remainsthat, by its consequences, the condemnation of the King is at the crux of our contemporary history. It symbolizes thesecularization of our history and the disincarna-tion of the Christian God. Up to now God played a part in historythrough the medium of the kings. But His representative in history has been killed, for there is no longer a king.Therefore there is nothing but a semblance of God, relegated to the heaven of principles.Link to Albert Camus' "The Rebel"....
The revolutionaries may well refer to the Gospel, but in fact they dealt a terrible blow to Christianity, from which ithas not yet recovered. It really seems as if the execution of the King, followed, as we know, by hysterical scenes of suicide and madness, took place in complete awareness of what was being done. Louis XVI seems, sometimes, tohave doubted his divine right, though he systematically rejected any projected legislation which threatened his faith.
But from the moment that he suspected or knew his fate, he seemed to identify himself, as his language betrayed,with his divine mission, so that there would be no possible doubt that the attempt on his person was aimed at the King-Christ, the incarnation of the divinity, and not at the craven flesh of a mere man. His bedside book in the Temple was the Imitation. The calmness and perfection that this man of rather average sensibility displayed during hislast moments, his indifference to everything of this world, and, finally, his brief display of weakness onthe solitary scaffold, so far removed from the people whose ears he had wanted to reach, while the terriblerolling of the drum drowned his voice, give us the right to imagine that it was not Capet who died, butLouis appointed by divine right, and that with him, in a certain manner, died temporal Christianity. To emphasize this sacred bond, his confessor sustained him, in his moment of weakness, by reminding himof his "resemblance" to the God of Sorrows. And Louis XVI recovers himself and speaks in the language of this God: "I shall drink," he says, "the cup to the last dregs." Then he commits himself, trembling, into the hands of an ignoble executioner.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Albert Camus on the Death of King Louis XVI