1 April 2022

The Blue Marble

by Matthew Betts

"...Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever..." - Psalm 146:6

In 1972, the astronaut Jack Schmitt took a photo of earth from the Apollo 17 spacecraft. The photo has since been called the “Blue Marble" and was taken enroute to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula. This photo is so famous that it also happens to be the most reproduced photograph ever. No human has seen that perspective in person since the photo was taken, yet most of us feel we know how the earth looks – and it’s all because of the “Blue Marble” photo. 

In many ways, the “Blue Marble” photo connected the world like no other photo previously, but since then, the world has changed forever because we are more connected than ever. Information is at our fingertips via a computer, tablet or phone. In 1998, the Carmelite Order were one of the first orders to have a website, and then the Shrine followed this initiative in 2003. By 2012 more than a third of the world’s population had access to the web, which was a 566% increase from 2000 back when the Carmelites were still finding their website ‘feet’. Now over five billion people are on the internet. 

When Fr. Elias first founded the Shrine of Saint Jude back in 1955 what I have written above was still the world of the science fiction novel, but here we are. We have 7,326 likes on our Facebook page and around 800 users per week to our website. We are not unique - it is now possible to listen to the Pope whenever you want – you can go to his back catalogue or can listen to him at the Angelus. Back in 1955, you had to wait for one of his predecessor’s encyclicals to come along. I have a very faint memory of when the Pope visited Britain in 1982 – literally the first time that had ever happened and it was an amazing experience – and I was only two! 

At the Shrine of Saint Jude, we have been producing weekly reflections since the outbreak of the Pandemic, plus our website is full of information on the Shrine and the Apostle. We get visits from all over the world. The Carmelites are therefore very proud of what has been achieved since 2003, and are sure that Fr. Elias would be pleased that the knowledge of Saint Jude spreads in so many different ways to what he knew – not just via the post, but also on various online channels. If you remember, Saint Isidore was seen by Pope John Paul II as the patron saint of the internet, because he embarked on a project of writing an encyclopaedia of universal knowledge. The internet is now that encyclopaedia and there is so much to find out about. 

So here we are on the 1 April 2022 (but this is no April Fool), and we need to ask you a favour? Please can you help us to spread the knowledge of the Apostle Saint Jude and his Shrine? Please click on the links and see what you can do. Ask your friends and family to follow us on Facebook or Twitter; ask them to sign up to our quarterly newsletter; ask them to come and visit us – either online or in person. All are welcome – no one is turned away because Jude is the saint of hope in Christ. Let’s tell everyone. Let’s use the internet as a tool for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Thank you.

Let us pray...

Dear Lord, 
let us pray that the connectivity of the internet
can provide all with knowledge of the world and that
only good can come from the internet
helping us all to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Saint Isidore, pray for us; Saint Jude, saint of Hope, pray for us. 

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