Weekly TV Picks

DEC. 4 & 7

Pope John Paul II


Airing in two-hour installments Sunday at 9 p.m. and Wednesday at 8 p.m., this premiere miniseries bio of the late Vicar of Christ was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI after he saw a partial version of it in mid-November. In the first part, Cary Elwes plays the young Karol Wojtyla in his Polish years and in the second, Catholic actor Jon Voight plays him as Pope John Paul II, fighting Communism and the culture of death.


Design on a Dime

Home & Garden TV, 3 p.m., 11 p.m.

In this episode, “Mexican-Inspired Christmas,” the design team helps Rudy and Maria Jimenez turn a plain room into a place of celebration, and Maria and her mom take part in the Christmas tradition of making tamales for all their relatives and friends.

DEC. 6 & 9

‘Peanuts’ Christmas Specials


On Tuesday at 8 p.m., the 40th-anniversary showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas adds on short 'toons that each feature a “Peanuts” character. On Saturday at 8 p.m., I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown! spotlights toddler ReRun Van Pelt.


Remembering Pearl Harbor

History Channel

Starting at 8 a.m., four specials, all re-airs, tell the story of the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The same slate of shows starts again at 2 p.m.


Meditations on the Immaculate Conception

EWTN, 6:30 a.m., 5 p.m.

“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict Groeschel speaks in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Christmas Animals

Animal Planet, 8 p.m.

We learn about lots of animals that are associated with Christmas — including, nowadays, reindeer and, tangentially, to say the least, even chipmunks.


Black Pharaohs, Golden War

History Channel, 6 p.m.

An inscription in the tomb of an ancient governor in El Kab, Egypt, says an invasion by Kushites “covered the landscape of Egypt.” Archaeologists cite this and other indications that the Kingdom of Kush fought the pharaohs and even ruled Egypt for a century.


Rick Steves’

European Christmas

PBS, 8 p.m.

Choirs, chapels, cathedrals and families abound in veteran travel host Rick Steves’ 90-minute special on Christmas customs, concerts and celebrations in Bath, Burgundy, Nuremberg, Oslo, Paris, Salzburg and Tuscany.

Dan Engler writes from Santa Barbara, California.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.