Baylor Catholics in front of the Bean in Chicao

Ignited & Equipped: How the Student Leadership Summit is Transforming Baylor Catholics

January in Chicago is frigid. While the temps dipped as low as 12 degrees January 2-6,  Fr. Daniel Liu and 40 Baylor Catholic students stayed warm in Chicago at the FOCUS Student Leadership Summit (SLS18), held on Chicago’s beautiful waterfront at McCormick Place. They had fellowship, took part in adoration and Holy Mass, and attended impact sessions (leadership training) and power sessions (leadership lessons in action), and received rich inspiration from stellar speakers like actor Jim Caviezal, Bishop Robert Barron, Sarah Swafford, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., and many more.

The impact was incredible, and we spoke with two students, Cassandra Rodriguez and Eliza Sims, about what was most memorable and transformative about the experience.

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Why Advent? Guest Post by Michael Gonzalez

By Michael Gonzalez, graduate student in Baylor’s department of political science

Ah Advent, the season set aside by the Church to prepare us for the great Feast of Christmas! To most Catholic imaginations, the word likely brings to mind the cutting of Christmas trees, the hanging of wreathes, the eating of good food, and resting by the fireside—or some such happy yuletide preparations. For students, it means the end of exams and a return to home; for teachers it means frantically grading exams so that one can return to home. For just about everyone, it’s probably safe to say that Advent represents a fairly happy time to make preparations for the big day.

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How SLS18 will Transform Baylor Students: an Interview with Eric Goetz


40 Baylor Catholic students are preparing for Student Leadership Summit 2018 (SLS18), a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) conference that’s set to take place in Chicago in early January. FOCUS Missionary & Team Lead Eric Goetz offers some insight into what the leadership conference is all about and invites you to consider supporting this transformative experience for Baylor Catholic students. Continue reading →

5 Ways to Get the Daily Mass Readings


“Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” – St. Jerome

Feasting on the riches of Scripture is a daily must, both at Mass and outside of Mass. But reading the daily Mass readings is a good start and foundation of your day, whether you can get to daily Mass or not.

Here’s a couple ways to make sure you’re getting your daily bread of the Scriptures.*

  1. Old fashioned paper: If you’re paper and binding kind of person, there are several ways to keep up with the daily readings:
  2. USCCB Daily Mass Readings Podcast on iTunes (also available online) -A great service of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Get the daily readings on your mobile device. It’s wonderful to hear them read out loud, and a little fun and interesting to hear the different readers (with different styles and accents).
  3. EWTN: The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) posts the daily readings as well as video of the readings/ homily on their YouTube channel. Downside: the video is usually not available until mid-morning, so if you are an early riser and like to have morning devotions with the daily readings, you might try one of the other options.
  4. Universalis: Free daily readings and liturgy of the hours (uses New Jerusalem Bible translation).
  5. Apps: There are several Catholic apps where you can find the daily readings, some free and some paid, all in English and some with other language options.
    • Laudate (Free on iTunes and Google Play) a fair app. The daily readings are just a web app connection to the USCCB site (and the text is a bit small), but it has a lot of things in one place. You can’t beat the price. English only.
    • Evangelizo (Free on iTunes and Google Play)– Daily readings in 10 languages.
    • Catholic Daily Readings (Free on iTunes, Google Play, and Microsoft Windows) – Super easy to use: open and it loads the readings. Plus it has a share function.
    • iMissal app (iTunes, $4.99, & Google Play, $3.99) – A decent app that has the daily readings (and full missal for Mass in English), as well as daily scriptures, prayers, and Catholic news. The audio readings require a data/ WiFi connection, and the saints feast days they list are sometimes incorrect, but overall of fair to good app experience.
    • Word Among Us – (Free for 14 day trial, $1.99/mo or $23.99/ year on iTunes or Kindle) Mass readings and reflections.

How do you get your daily Mass readings? Do you have a favorite Missal or app we missed?

*Most of these options use the American Mass translation, which uses the New American Bible.

Bear Awakening 15

BA14 group shot at end of retreat

Hello, my name is Jennifer Zambie! I’m from Austin, Texas and I’m a Senior studying Speech Pathology. When I was a freshman, I always heard upper classmen call St. Peter’s their second home, but I never understood what they meant until after I attended Bear Awakening.

I was raised Catholic, so when Baylor’s Welcome Week Church Fair came along, I headed straight to St. Peter’s booth because many high school friends had told me how great Father Daniel was (it’s true). I started attending St. Peter’s and joined a Bible study. But, when the semester got busy, I became one of those people who showed up right on time for Mass and left as soon as the final song ended. My faith and prayer life became a Sunday-only thing. The bare bones faith wasn’t fulfilling me, so I started looking for something more. My Bible Study leader kept talking about Bear Awakening and encouraged me to attend, so I did.

I went on Bear Awakening the spring semester of my freshman year, and it 100% changed the way I practiced my faith. Awakening showed me two very important aspects of my faith I was missing: COMMUNITY AND COMMITMENT.

First, community: Because of that powerful weekend, I met the community of St. Peter’s who welcomed me with open arms. I met people from every class, major and hometown that were praying for me and who put aside countless hours to plan for this retreat. I saw how much joy and energy these staffers had in the middle of a crazy semester, and for the first time I felt that I was missing something from my faith. I wanted that unfailing trust in God and the life giving friendship that were apparent in the community. They encouraged me to grow in my prayer life, attend Mass, go to Confession, join other ministries and share the Gospel with not only people on campus, but also the world. This retreat and the friendships that have followed taught me how to live out my faith daily.

Second, commitment: During that weekend and the weeks after I realized that the closeness to God I felt on the retreat was not just a one weekend thing but something that can be lived out every day through the Sacraments, prayer, and friendships. Bear Awakening inspired me to make a deeper commitment to my faith and helped me figure out how exactly to fulfill that commitment. It helped me grow from a Sunday only Catholic to an everyday Catholic. My college journey and, more importantly, my faith journey would look exponentially different if not for this incredible retreat.

Now, fast forward to my senior year (what?!?). I am the coordinator for Bear Awakening 15 and I’m writing to persuade you to sign up for the retreat!

“But wait Jennifer,” you might be saying. “You told us how cool Awakening was, but you didn’t tell us WHAT it was!”

You’re right. Whoops! Okay… what is Awakening? Awakening is a weekend-long retreat put on by college students for college students. The retreat is based on Catholic teachings, but it is open to anyone who wants to grow closer to God to “re-awaken” the fire of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter where you are in your faith journey, you are welcome here and we want you here.

Another cool thing: Awakening retreats happen all across the country at various college campuses, and once you have attended an Awakening retreat; you can staff any other Awakening anywhere! As far as our retreat goes, this year Bear Awakening is in the Fall from October 7th to the 9th (don’t worry there is no football game that weekend).

It costs $30 to go, but don’t let money be a hindrance. We have scholarships available! Applications are open, and you can sign up here or pick up an app at St. Peter’s. What makes the Awakening experience so special? The combination of the sacraments, getting to know others and the community, learning more about the faith, playing games, eating food, friendly competition, and other activities are just some ways that make Awakening an unforgettable weekend. But don’t just take my word for it, sign up for Bear Awakening and see for yourself what the Holy Spirit can do!

BA14 banner.jpg

If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for reading and God Bless!

At Last, Some Literal Orientation

Getting situated at the beginning of the year

At the beginning of the school year, this past week has just been one orientation after another. Important people you don’t know tell you important things you won’t remember. And, we hope, everyone sets off in the right direction.

The very word orientation has fundamentally to do with direction. Its Latin root—oriens—refers to the rising sun, and of course, the sun rises in the east. Hence an old word for the far east is the orient.

So after a week full of orientation at Baylor, maybe you seek out the chapel at St. Peter’s for some peace and quiet, something familiar, maybe just like home.

Is Father being rude?

Only, you then notice that Father Daniel is celebrating the Mass—facing away from me? With his back to us?

You might feel a little disoriented, maybe even mildly offended. We even use the phrase “to turn your back on someone” to describe betrayal. Plus, your priest at home probably doesn’t do it this way. Is that even Catholic?

It actually is. And the reason why has everything to do with orientation. When a priest celebrates Mass facing the same direction as the people, he is said to be saying the Mass ad orientem—toward the rising sun, towards the east.

Written in architecture

This orientation is even written in the architecture of churches. Some churches, though not all, were built so that we all face east when at Mass. So it’s been for centuries. The beautiful gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, faces east, as does St. Patrick’s in Manhattan. And St. Stephen’s Cathedral, in the middle of Vienna, Austria, is actually lined up so that the sun rises exactly in front of it on the feast of its patron, St Stephen, on 26 December.

But architecture aside, still the question remains: why? Why face east? What does ad orientem actually mean?

A gift with Jewish roots

It’s actually something early Christians learned from their Jewish elder brethren. Synagogues outside of Jerusalem were built so that worshippers faced the direction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the site of God’s presence on earth.

But when Christ came, he claimed to be the Temple himself. He is the Word made flesh, the incarnate presence of God on earth. (The place to look is John’s gospel, chapter 2.) With his advent, the long night of sin, death, and ignorance was over. The day that the prophets had long foretold had finally come, when God would dwell with his people in a new and decisive way.

Anyone looking for the dawn to come is inevitably going to be looking in one direction: east. As a result, the orientation towards east became associated with Christ himself.

What that means for us Catholic Christians is that the very direction we face at Mass symbolizes and expresses our hope in and love for God. Just as in the west, kneeling embodies humility, and genuflecting expresses respect and honor, even the very direction you face while standing is rich with significance. Even if your parish doesn’t technically face east, still the common orientation ad orientem of everyone at Mass—priests and laypeople alike—can be breathtaking to behold: a whole host of believers gathered, expectant, looking in the same direction, awaiting the coming Lord.

Strange behavior or united in our gaze?

But maybe you find all this ad orientem stuff off-putting or strange just because it seems so impersonal. “With his back to the people!” It’s true, it may look that way. But Father has no more turned his back on you than has everyone else who’s standing in front of you at Mass. The reality is, we’re all just facing the same direction.

Fundamentally, it’s about a common direction of prayer. Father actually will turn and face you from time to time—that’s when you know he’s talking to you. But most of the time when you’re all facing the same direction, that’s Father praying. That’s when we’re all praying. Ad orientem is about a common direction of prayer.

Prayer is a tough thing. If we’re honest, most of us would rather not do it. We’re comfortable with lecture halls, political rallies, and sporting events. We’re comfortable with what’s merely human.

Beholding the Lamb of God, the Bridgegroom

But with prayer, we have to do with God, and Masses celebrated ad orientem remind us of that. We aren’t there to face a priest. We’re there to behold God. We share in the work of the Mass, but Christ is the reason we’re all there. He’s the one we’re waiting for.

Thousands of years ago, the Psalmist likened the tabernacle, the place of God’s presence, to the sun, which, “as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber, hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way” (Ps 18.6 [19.6]). Today we all turn to watch the bride walk down the aisle, but back then it was the opposite. It was the glory of the bridegroom to break forth like the dawn and stride towards his bride in marriage.

The Church Fathers saw in that verse the figure of Christ: he is the decisive presence of God with his people. The apostles say that when Christ comes again, it will be like a wedding. Christ the bridegroom will burst forth again like the dawn for his waiting bride. What direction will that bride be facing?

-Adam Myers


A Message from the Worthy Grand Knight

Greetings all! My name is Sam Esparza, and if you didn’t get the chance to talk to one of the Knights last night, I’m going to tell you about what goes on in our chapter in preparation for Go Roman Week next week. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Knights of Columbus? Isn’t that the organization of old guys that dress up sometimes and have all those steak dinners?” While that seems to be the stereotype that has come about nowadays, that isn’t exactly the case. Yes, the commonality of parish councils seems to be that seniors make up the majority of them, but the Knights of Columbus is open to any young man 18 years of age or over. In fact, college councils like us were established to get young men more involved and to really understand this organization that we become part of for the rest of our lives.


Now this still leaves the question: What is the KoC? There are a lot of titles and accolades attributed to it: it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, it has been called the strong right arm of the church, but the organization really started as an insurance company (believe it or not). Father Michael J. McGivney, our founder, established the Knights as a way to insure the families of Catholic men. This mission was devised as a way to take care of men and their families during a time when Catholic men were at risk of dying in their dangerous workplaces. What he did not foresee, however, was the rise of brotherhood among the men that joined. Now, over 100 years later, that brotherhood is close to 2 million strong.


Here at our Baylor Council, we have high hopes for this upcoming year.

Of course, Go Roman Week (Aug. 30-Sept. 2) isn’t the only time we focus on these important aspects of being Catholic men, we look forward to all the activities we can participate in this upcoming year. We plan to participate in more Pro-life activities like the Annual March for Life, weekly pro-life prayers, and partnering with Pro-life Waco for any other opportunities we may encounter. We look forward to our Social Events as well, such as the yearly trip we take to the Texas Stars Hockey Game, or our annual basketball cookout known comically known as Sausagefest. We look forward to everything we have in store this year, and to meeting all of the young men interested in joining our council.


Sam Esparza will be the Grand Knight for the upcoming school year. He is a senior, Physics major, from El Paso, TX.