Fr. Beretta’s Reflections During the COVID-19 Crisis

3/24/2020 Refection from Fr. Beretta

How to Be the Best Community Possible in Time of Crisis

Earlier today, I spent two hours at St James Healthcare to be with patients and express sincere appreciation to the staff. It is clear that living in an era of Pandemic is in everyone’s mind. And yet the spirit of dedication, I witnessed, is inspiring in the strict practice of protective precautions and the excellent care of the patients. Healthcare providers answer to a higher calling and in our community they are, beautifully, keeping the selfless promise of their profession. In a Public Health Crisis, we will all fare better because we have these women and men on our side. We owe them strong and meaningful support.

The history of the 1340s will forever be shrouded in the deep gloom of the Great Plague. It was a time of unimaginable suffering not only because of the merciless and invincible nature of the illness but also because of the disastrous human response to it. When medicine and prayers appeared thoroughly powerless, people reacted with panic, irresponsible conduct of reckless exposure, selfish hoarding and the irresistible temptation of blaming and scapegoating.

During the Black Death, very few resisted the widespread unraveling of decent human behavior. But one figure shines brightly in contrast to the rest. Guy de Chauliac was the personal physician of Pope Clement VI, at the time when the papacy was briefly located in Avignon, Southern France. The entire region surrounding Avignon was completely devastated by the pandemic scourge. It was also prolific in anti semitic scapegoating, fictitious rumors of poisoning conspiracies and theories of divine retributions.

Braving immense personal risks, Chauliac made systematic and scientific observations and heroically combatted the groundless rumors and protected their victims through the power of the Pope.

In Pandemic 2020, none of us are immune from reverting to the same ugly urges. A community that overcomes crisis, invariably succeeds in elevating itself above these destructive instincts.

Avoiding any antisocial drifting frees us to be cooperative with the BSB Public Health Team that has served us well in a challenging time. And together, we have a lot of work to do. Some people in our midst are going to be profoundly harmed, hopefully very few by loss but others by the looming economic hardship. My heart goes out to all small business owners and their employees.

When our Health Dept. tells us that it is safe again to patronize restaurants and bars, because they have been temporarily closed understandably, I will organize a group visit of several Uptown establishments offering a blessing for those who wish. I will invite everyone to join us, buy food, a drink or a gift certificate. I will encourage others to do it in other parts of town.

Amazon may be an attractive option at this time of isolation but they do not need our business – our neighbors do.

Over decades, I studied what makes some people resilient in times of crisis and others considerably less so. Butte possesses the qualities of resilient societies.

I like to remind people that we are all descendants of epic survivals from catastrophic epidemics, forced migrations, famines, wars, ice-ages. We carry the genes of survival – the DNA of thriving in crisis. To paraphrase Albert Camus – there is an invincible summer at the core of our meanest winters. Now is the time to rely on this astonishing skill.

Hope is not based on unrealistic, wishful expectations – There will be nothing easy about the challenges ahead. Authentic hope springs from the conviction that with concerted sacrifices of physical separation, courageous and compassionate efforts to protect the most vulnerable and with the help of God we will be alright in the end.

It could be a testing ordeal but our community is more than capable to stay calm, stick together, scrupulously comply with the official directions, overcome the threat and eventually use this crisis as a turning point towards a better and more vibrant Butte.

3/24/2020 Refection from Fr. Beretta

How to Be the Best Community Possible in Time of Crisis

Earlier today, I spent two hours at St James Healthcare to be with patients and express sincere appreciation to the staff. It is clear that living in an era of Pandemic is in everyone’s mind. And yet the spirit of dedication, I witnessed, is inspiring in the strict practice of protective precautions and the excellent care of the patients. Healthcare providers answer to a higher calling and in our community they are, beautifully, keeping the selfless promise of their profession. In a Public Health Crisis, we will all fare better because we have these women and men on our side. We owe them strong and meaningful support.

The history of the 1340s will forever be shrouded in the deep gloom of the Great Plague. It was a time of unimaginable suffering not only because of the merciless and invincible nature of the illness but also because of the disastrous human response to it. When medicine and prayers appeared thoroughly powerless, people reacted with panic, irresponsible conduct of reckless exposure, selfish hoarding and the irresistible temptation of blaming and scapegoating.

During the Black Death, very few resisted the widespread unraveling of decent human behavior. But one figure shines brightly in contrast to the rest. Guy de Chauliac was the personal physician of Pope Clement VI, at the time when the papacy was briefly located in Avignon, Southern France. The entire region surrounding Avignon was completely devastated by the pandemic scourge. It was also prolific in anti semitic scapegoating, fictitious rumors of poisoning conspiracies and theories of divine retributions.

Braving immense personal risks, Chauliac made systematic and scientific observations and heroically combatted the groundless rumors and protected their victims through the power of the Pope.

In Pandemic 2020, none of us are immune from reverting to the same ugly urges. A community that overcomes crisis, invariably succeeds in elevating itself above these destructive instincts.

Avoiding any antisocial drifting frees us to be cooperative with the BSB Public Health Team that has served us well in a challenging time. And together, we have a lot of work to do. Some people in our midst are going to be profoundly harmed, hopefully very few by loss but others by the looming economic hardship. My heart goes out to all small business owners and their employees.

When our Health Dept. tells us that it is safe again to patronize restaurants and bars, because they have been temporarily closed understandably, I will organize a group visit of several Uptown establishments offering a blessing for those who wish. I will invite everyone to join us, buy food, a drink or a gift certificate. I will encourage others to do it in other parts of town.

Amazon may be an attractive option at this time of isolation but they do not need our business – our neighbors do.

Over decades, I studied what makes some people resilient in times of crisis and others considerably less so. Butte possesses the qualities of resilient societies.

I like to remind people that we are all descendants of epic survivals from catastrophic epidemics, forced migrations, famines, wars, ice-ages. We carry the genes of survival – the DNA of thriving in crisis. To paraphrase Albert Camus – there is an invincible summer at the core of our meanest winters. Now is the time to rely on this astonishing skill.

Hope is not based on unrealistic, wishful expectations – There will be nothing easy about the challenges ahead. Authentic hope springs from the conviction that with concerted sacrifices of physical separation, courageous and compassionate efforts to protect the most vulnerable and with the help of God we will be alright in the end.

It could be a testing ordeal but our community is more than capable to stay calm, stick together, scrupulously comply with the official directions, overcome the threat and eventually use this crisis as a turning point towards a better and more vibrant Butte.