Easter Weekend: Christian-themed programming highlights

Easter Weekend: Christian-themed programming highlights

Cable and network TV outlets hope you’ll watch their special Easter programming during the one time of year when media types are eager to attract Christian viewers.

Image from NatGeo's
Screen capture from trailer for NatGeo's new film "Killing Jesus," based on the Bill O'Reilly book. To air on Fox News Sunday, April 5.

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2016 – Just in case you forgot that tomorrow is Easter Sunday, we’re here to remind you that it is. And both cable and network TV stations are hoping you’ll tune into their special Easter programming during the one time of year when media types are actually eager to attract Christian viewers.

Fortunately, Easter programming has become more immediate and vital in recent years, adding an appropriate dose of realism to the timeless Christian Resurrection narrative and making this inspirational story perhaps more immediate for a more secularized and skeptical modern audience.

Your local and cable TV schedules may vary, but here are highlights of some of this weekend’s best choices for religiously-oriented programming. If you’re seriously worried about the moral state of U.S. and world affairs, perhaps you’ll find some much-needed hope and inspiration waiting to be discovered anew in one or more of these programs. Or better yet, at your local house of worship.

Today is Holy Saturday and the Latin Times reminds us that as a day of mourning, Holy Saturday carries many traditions and recommendations.  Latin Times reminds us that:

1. On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of Mass and the celebration of marriages is forbidden, as is the celebration of other sacraments.

2. While Holy Saturday is a day of mourning, some families take their Easter food to be blessed at Church in preparation for Sunday’s feast.

2. Before that, a morning prayer is highly recommended, as well as fasting, which is also encouraged as an act of devotion suited to the mystery celebrated this day, but not required.

3. Those of penance, sick or in danger of death are allowed to celebrate certain sacraments such as Baptism.

5. Easter Vigil is the vigil held on the evening before Easter (the full meaning of Vigil being to await for the coming of the Lord). The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday.

Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Pope Francis (click for full schedule)

On cable channel EWTN has a full day of celebration and religious remembrance starting today and ending with the Pope’s Mass live from St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City where Pope Francis celebrates the elaborate and ancient Holy Saturday Vigil Mass.

For Catholics who’ve lost touch with their pre-Vatican II religious heritage, this lengthy, comprehensive liturgy takes participants on the difficult but spiritually inspiring journey that begins with the sorrow of Christ’s death on the cross and concludes with the glory of his Resurrection.

“The Ten Commandments”

The Ten Commandments will air once again on ABC this Saturday, March 26, beginning at 7:00 p.m. which has been aired regularly over the Easter weekend on ABC since 1973.

The film’s running time is three hours and 40 minutes, and allowing for commercials, viewing the 1956 classic can be a major undertaking.

“Killing Jesus”

No doubt to the surprise and astonishment of the mainstream media, “Killing Jesus” set ratings records for the National Geographic Channel (NatGeo) during this new film’s airing earlier this week. Adapted from Bill O’Reilly eponymous book, the movie can be watched on demand here. Click full screen or connect to your television monitor for a better movie experience.

Killing Jesus Full Movie – National Geographic by ghazwanmattoka
“A.D.: The Bible Continues”

History Channel buffs will remember that its miniseries “The Bible” was a huge Nielsen success when it first broadcast in 2013. Sensing eyeballs and profits, NBC managed to ink the series sequel. But that’s a good thing, as they’re likely to attract a larger viewership for the series than the smaller History Channel, which is a good thing for spreading the word. Beginning Easter evening at 9 p.m. EDT, NBC affiliates will air 12 new one-hour episodes of “A.D.: The Bible Continues” each week, beginning Easter night at 9 p.m. The new mini-series will pick up where the 2013 edition left off. (Trailer below.)

Note: Some of these programs may also be available via the on-demand services of your local cable or Internet provider.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17