EWTN’s Fall Shows Showcase Call to Holiness

TV Lineup Features Themes of Catechesis, Evangelization and Vocation

“Holiness of life is not the privilege of a chosen few — it is the obligation, the call and the will of God for every Christian.”
Mother Angelica surely had this conviction of hers in mind and heart when she founded the Eternal Word Television Network. And just as surely, fostering holiness of life is among Mother’s prayer intentions today, as EWTN continues to carry out her vision and mission of drawing souls to Christ through its TV shows and other endeavors.

EWTN’s fall 2014 lineup of new programs is no exception. 

Franciscan Father Joseph Mary Wolfe’s The Church Universal (at 5pm Sundays, 5am Tuesdays and 10pm Fridays) spotlights dynamic apostolates and, he said, their “daily, hidden charitable works and sacrifices.”

“The abundant life and salvation that Christ brings is meant for everyone universally,” he said. “We all have a mission to fulfill in building up the kingdom of God, in extending the Church in the world. I hope the new series will inspire people to join or assist the good works of one of these groups.”

Highlighting Africa, a big part of the universal Church, is Word for a Wounded World (at 11pm Mondays and 5:30am Saturdays), which was filmed on location in Nigeria. Father Maurice Emelu of the Diocese of Orlu diagnoses “moral wounds due to sin,” as well as “physical wounds (including social, emotional and psychological wounds),” and then “leads the audiences into finding healing, which ultimately enriches our spiritual life and growth in holiness.”

As he put it, “My biggest hope is to reach out to the wounded with a ‘word’ of grace, love, peace, joy, healing and reconciliation.”

Viewers who need to brush up on catechesis can tune into Grab Your Catechism: Season II (at 4pm Sundays and 11pm Tuesdays), in which Father Charles Connor resumes his explanation of the Catechism.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not only a tremendous compendium of the faith; it is also a great spiritual book, drawing as it does on the great heritage of the saintly/scholarly writings of the doctors, fathers and spiritual masters,” Father Connor explained.

“Such references, along with a meditative study of the truths of the faith themselves, can only enhance one’s knowledge of Catholicism, while at the same time draw one closer to the triune God.”

Going further back into faith — the Old Testament — is the focus of Exile and Return (at 1:30am Sundays and 2pm Fridays). Scripture scholar Father Joseph Ponessa and co-host Laurie Manhardt explain the Old Testament’s post-Babylonian-exile books: Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah and Maccabees I and II.

“This series provides commentary on the Bible from an orthodox-Catholic perspective from the very heart of the Church,” explained Manhardt, who describes herself as "a lay Catholic woman who enjoys studying the Bible."

She added, “Hopefully, people will pick up their Catholic Bibles and delve deeply into God’s word. They will experience that the Bible is the living word of God, ‘piercing the soul and spirit … and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart’” (Hebrews 4:12).

For commentary on world events from a Catholic perspective, viewers can tune into Conversations: The World Over With Raymond Arroyo (at 5:30pm Wednesdays and 2:30am Saturdays), which features interviews that Arroyo has selected as the best from his 19 years as an EWTN host.

“These are figures who continue to shape the Church and the world,” he said of his interview subjects. “An opportunity to listen to some of the most holy, innovative, talented people on the globe always calls us to something more. I hope audiences will not only hear but use the wisdom they find in the words of these leaders.”

Interviews with converts are a mainstay on EWTN, and Tom Peterson’s Catholics Come Home (at 6pm Sundays and 4:30am and 10pm Thursdays) continues the trend, featuring guests whose lives changed after they saw a 30-second TV spot from his apostolate, Catholics Come Home.

“We pray that more viewers will become salt and light to the world, sharing their witness of the Good News of Jesus Christ, to change our world for the better and help love more souls home to Jesus and his Church — and ultimately to heaven,” Peterson said.

A focus on priestly vocations is also in the lineup. Vocation Boom (at 11am Sundays, 2:30am Tuesdays and 5:30pm Thursdays) interviews priests, seminarians, rectors, vocations directors and laypeople in order to help men “discover whether or not the Lord is calling them to the priesthood,” said host Jerry Usher. He calls the priesthood “an unfathomable gift from the God who loves his children immensely.”

He added, “The more seriously we take the priesthood and the need for more holy priests, I believe the holier we ourselves will become.”

The vocation to marriage and family is the focus of At Home With Jim & Joy (at 2pm Thursdays, 5pm Fridays and 2am Sundays), hosted by Jim and Joy Pinto.

Jim says the weekly live talk show “is committed to affirming God’s plan for life, marriage and the family, and we believe that he will prevail” amid modern attacks.

He added, “We believe the call to holiness is fulfilled in ‘becoming who we are’ as individuals, married couples and as families: We are called to be reflections of the very image and likeness of God. We are graced to be those who manifest before others the life, love and community of the most Holy Trinity.”

In the wake of modern affronts to faith, He Dared Speak the Truth (at 2:30pm Wednesdays and 11pm Fridays), starting Oct. 15, is very timely.

John Henry Crosby and Alice von Hildebrand, the widow of noted philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), recount von Hildebrand’s heroic defiance of Adolf Hitler’s atheistic Nazi regime.

“Von Hildebrand can be a wonderful inspiration. He shows that, in the midst of great sacrifice and even danger, answering God’s call brings not only strength, but peace, joy, fulfillment,” said Crosby. “I hope viewers will be (re)awakened to the opportunities — perhaps cloaked in the ordinariness of the day to day — for heroic witness in their own lives.”

The themes of the latest shows reflect Mother Angelica’s lifelong mission of fostering holiness for all. As she once said, “If you’re breathing, and you’ve got two legs, you’re called to holiness.”

Dan Engler is the Register’s TV critic.
He writes from Santa Barbara, California.

This story has been updated since it went to press.