Welcome to World War III
By John Mallon
April 1, 2020: I finally understand. I never did before. Why my mother would never talk about World War II. You don’t hear much about the women of the Greatest Generation, but she was one of them. Whenever I asked her about the war years she didn’t want to talk about it. She would just shake her head and say she lost too many friends.
Yesterday was her birthday. I left my apartment to go food shopping. I dutifully wiped my shopping cart down with the little disinfectant wipes provided at the door. As I was wheeling my cart through my little Walmart neighborhood store, I was thinking about my fellow shoppers. I thought about World War II. Do they feel it? They must.
Feel what? The horror… the horror… Like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.
The horror… the horror…
No one spoke about it. But they must be feeling it. A dread hanging in the air. Like during World War II, everybody feels it. The entire world was caught up in it. Like now. I wasn’t born yet but I can tell that in those days everyone felt it. Would a telegram come today, with the terrible news that this time it was your young man who was killed? A husband, a son, a brother, a father, a nephew, an uncle…
Nowadays it’s also a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a niece, an aunt…
Please, God, no…
We watch the president’s daily briefings. The infamous mainstream media will say or do anything to put the president in the worst possible light, even in this incredible crisis. No “uniting the country” for them. And then, Nancy Pelosi wanted to slip abortion funding into the president’s emergency bill to help business owners and their employees. Thank God she failed. That’s all we need, more death. “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste!” The media and the democrats have lost their souls.
Anyway, we heard my nephew, a pulmonary man in the ICU of a Philadelphia hospital, was being sent to a hospital in New Jersey where the need is greater and they don’t have anyone who does what he does. He and his boss have to teach them. He’s on the front lines. My sister, his mother, is terrified, as am I, that he’ll get infected. He is terrified (as am I) he’ll infect his new little family. He has three little boys; the oldest just turned three, and they have a younger pair of twins.
Please God, no… Let nothing happen to them—or anyone else. It’s hard to think about the innocent children in this horror.
It turned out my nephew didn’t have to go, thank God.
This must be how it was during World War II. Everyone felt it. Whose family member will it be today? Please God no… Jesus, make it stop. We are on the lookout for an invisible enemy, not a dictator or a tyrant, although that miserable little tyrant virus is dictating our lives, not only here at home in safe America, but all over the world. Everywhere. It is World War III. And America is not even safe anymore. The barbarian has breached the gates.
Everyone has a story they need to tell that is too horrible to hear because all you can say is Please, God no...
We can’t even go to Mass. The bishops have banned public Masses during the crisis, and rightly so. Prudence is primary among the virtues. My sister and I pray twice a day every day over the phone for our family and for the horror to end.
Even Pope Francis preached an Urbi et Orbi message March 27, to an empty St. Peter’s square that we should pray for the grace to cry. (I beat him to it.) The photos were dramatic of the Pope, a tiny white figure viewed from across the empty piazza with the glistening cobblestones wet from a misting rain.
Today, Easter, as I write, the Pope celebrated Mass in an empty St. Peter’s Basilica, and gave his second Urbi et Orbi message in less than a month in the empty church.
When will it stop? One thing is certain. When it does stop the world will never be the same. It will be different. Too many people will be missing. The world will have PTSD. The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of the great plague. Another moment in history where we are collectively reminded we are not God.
Nobody could have dreamed of this. Not in the 21st century. Not in modern America. We’re used to fighting men and armies. All we can do now is endure, and pray. And like the Pope said, cry.
Oh yes, and wash our hands—a lot. Thank God for soap.
Please God, make it stop.
Now we can draw strength from Easter. He is Risen. Alleluia.
John Mallon holds a BA in theology from Boston College and an MA in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. From 1994 to 1997 He was Editor of the Sooner Catholic, The Archdiocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, where he won eleven Catholic Press Association Awards despite never having run a diocesan paper before. After that he served as Contributing Editor For Inside the Vatican magazine. He is now retired and still writes from Oklahoma.