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WASHINGTON (CNS) — Moral theologian William E. May, who taught theology for decades and wrote numerous books and scholarly articles, died Dec. 13 at age 86 surrounded by members of his family in a Maryland suburb of Washington.

His funeral Mass was to be celebrated Dec. 20 at Holy Redeemer Parish in Kensington, Maryland, followed by burial at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Catholic journalist and author Russell Shaw described May as "one of the most prominent moral theologians of his day" who was "a forthright defender of orthodox Catholic faith; the prolific author of a steady stream of books and articles, scholarly and popular alike; and a dedicated teacher, who helped prepare hundreds of young men and women for academic careers and pastoral service in and to the church."

Shaw, writing in the Dec. 16 issue of Our Sunday Visitor, also described May as a "devoted husband and father and a faithful, big-hearted friend of extraordinary generosity who was never happier than when giving others the praise he thought they deserved."

Since 2008, May had been a senior research fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation, a Washington-based research and educational institute.

From 1991 to 2008, he was the Michael J. McGivney professor of moral theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington. Before that he taught at Catholic University for 20 years.

He also taught at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and several other institutions. In 1986, Pope John Paul II appointed him a member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission, a position he held through 1997. He was a theological expert at the 1987 world Synod of Bishops on the vocation and mission of the laity and was a consultor in 2003 for the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy.

May, who was born May 27, 1928, in St. Louis, married Patricia Ann Keck in 1958 and they …   More

NEW YORK (CNS) — With "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (Warner Bros.), director Peter Jackson's trilogy of films based on Catholic writer J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 fantasy novel "The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" reaches a rousing finale.

Mixed opinions have been generated by Jackson's transformation of a single, relatively slim volume into a trio of longish movies. But few will deny that this concluding screen chapter progresses at a steady clip and successfully engages viewers' interest — even if newcomers to the story are not offered much in the way of explanation or exposition.

On a deeper level, the climactic struggle of Jackson's wrap-up chronicles between the forces of good and evil, both within and surrounding its characters, offers valuable lessons for those moviegoers mature enough to endure the narrative's many armed confrontations.

An early example of these frequent clashes pits heroic human warrior Bard (Luke Evans) against the fearsome dragon Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch), the bane of many in Tolkien's imaginary world of Middle-earth. As those well-versed in their Hobbit lore will know, it was Smaug who long ago exiled the hearty but stubborn Dwarves from their ancestral mountain bastion of Erebor.

After Bard takes advantage of a hidden vulnerability to slay Smaug, accordingly, the Dwarves' quest to reclaim their fabled citadel — a mission on which they've been skillfully aided by the formerly fainthearted Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) — reaches a successful culmination.

But no sooner have the Dwarves recovered their stronghold than the untold wealth stored up there begins to obsess their king, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). It's a particularly inopportune moment for Thorin to be plagued by the hopeless greed and paranoia that are symptomatic of "dragon sickness," since a vast army of evil Orcs, led by their odious chief, Azog (Manu Bennett), is on the march against Erebor.

With their natural …   More

Joy to the Kids was the winner of the Catholic Herald’s 2014 “Nominate a Charity” contest. In the spirit of the Christmas season, Catholic Herald staff members chose Joy to the Kids from a number of reader-nominated charities. As the winner, Joy to the Kids received coloring books, crayons, journals, fairy wings, Disney Princess Barbie dolls and other donations from the Catholic Herald staff.

Click here to read more about Joy to the Kids.

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I started unpacking Christmas ornaments last night. I didn’t recognize a single one as I pulled each one out, individually wrapped in tissue paper, or in their original Hallmark boxes with the photo on the outside.

Then it dawned on me that the treasure I had discovered was a box of my husband’s ornaments.

Some background: We got married six years ago, and most of his possessions remained in storage for nearly five years until we bought a house last year. We didn’t do much decorating last Christmas; we just ran out of time after the move.

This year we made the trek to a charming Christmas tree farm in Union Bridge, Md., near Frederick, and my husband shot photos to go with a story that he was running in his newspaper, The Catholic Review in Baltimore.

After the photos, and a tour of the grounds — an old barn turned into a Christmas shop and a mansion built in 1796 to look like a small Mount Vernon — we made our way to the fields. We stopped for a closer look at several trees. One had a nest in its branches. When we poked it, a little grey mouse scurried out. Another had such a curvy trunk we knew it would be a bear to get it to stand straight up in our living room. What seemed like an hour later of stopping, measuring and careful consideration we found “our tree.”

Chris took out the saw, I flinched a bit thinking of cutting into the pristine pine wood and ending any chance of it getting bigger. Once on its side we wrapped it in a moving blanket, hoisted it on to the roof, secured it with packing plastic and bungee cords and made our way back to the owner to settle up.

Once home that night, the tree was brought into the living room triumphantly, screwed into its stand, water and tree additive filled to the brim, and then it stood silent, still, almost holding its breath as it got accustomed to its place of honor next to the fireplace.

The following night, six strands of white lights were placed carefully along, around and in …   More

High school teens gathered for 6 a.m. Mass at All Saints Church in Manassas Dec. 1, followed by breakfast at Chick-fil-A. This tradition of meeting on the first Monday of the month was started in 2002 as a way to inspire youths and bring together the All Saints High School Youth Group with Soldados de Dios.

See photos from the monthly gathering.

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When William Wobbe started Bella Cafe in 2003, all he wanted was a place where he could sell sandwiches, play his guitar after hours and live his Catholic faith. After being away from the church for a while, he returned with enthusiasm and consecrated himself to Mary through St. Louis de Montfort’s devotion. Since then Wobbe said, “My Catholic faith has been everything to me.”

Below, Wobbe talks about his Catholic faith and the inspiration behind the restaurant. Click here to read more about Bella Cafe.

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To many Germans in the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler looked like just what Germany needed. Here, they imagined, was a charismatic leader capable of restoring social stability, economic prosperity and national honor to their battered country. Relatively few saw Hitler for what he was — a megalomaniac demagogue driven by racial fantasies that included hatred for Jews and contempt for Christianity.

Dietrich von Hildebrand was one of those few. He discerned the terrifying truth about Hitler and the Nazis from the start, and he did his best to warn his fellow Germans of the impending disaster. Even before the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 — Hitler’s abortive attempt to launch a nationwide revolution from Bavaria — von Hildebrand’s vocal opposition had landed him on the Nazis’ blacklist, slated for execution when they came to power.

In a way, political activism was out of character for this scholarly man, a philosophy professor by trade. But von Hildebrand also was a man of conscience, and having grasped the evil of Nazism before most others, he saw a duty to speak out.

Now the record of that speaking out during a crucial decade and a half leading up to World War II is preserved in a gripping new book, My Battle Against Hitler (Image, 2014). The volume has been translated and meticulously edited by John Henry Crosby, founder and director of the Hildebrand Legacy Project, a group devoted to promoting continued study of the life and work of von Hildebrand, and John F. Crosby, professor of philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Today, Dietrich von Hildebrand is perhaps best remembered for his masterful study of the interior life, Transformation in Christ. But the Crosby volume shows that there was much more to his career.

He was born in Florence in 1889, the son of a prominent German sculptor, and prepared for a career in philosophy under the influence of leading figures like Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler. In 1914, he converted to …   More

A student at St. Theresa School in Ashburn has shared a video with a unique view of the school — a bird’s eye view, with footage taken by a drone.

Alex Janninck, a 6th grader at the school, flew the drone over the school Nov. 23 after buying the equipment with money from his savings.

“He has saved every tooth fairy dollar that he ever got, all his birthday money, all the money he earned from raking leaves and spreading mulch for the 11 years of his entire life. He literally never spent a penny,” Alex’s mother, Macarena Janninck, wrote in an email. “When we were in New York earlier this year, he saw this drone and decided this was the one thing he wanted to buy. It was quite a splurge for him, needless to say.

“I am just proud that he saved and delayed gratification for so many years to get something that means so much to him,” she added.

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A murmur ran through the crowd as the Clinton Christian Eagles took the floor for warm-ups before Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s boys basketball home opener on Tuesday night. Their sheer size impressed many; with four players 6’7″ or taller. Scouts from premier college basketball programs such as Syracuse, Xavier, DePaul, and UVA-Wise sat in the stands, keeping their eyes on Eagles’ prospects such as standout Develle Phillips and Ahsante Shivers. The Washington Post recently ranked Clinton Christian, the defending Capitol Beltway champions, number three in their preseason All-Met standings. Needless to say, the considerably-smaller Wolves had a behemoth task looming before them.

In sports, while skill plays a role, the mental approach a team takes when preparing for a game also factors in a considerable amount. Teams may look at the opposition and psych themselves out before the game has ever even started. The result has been decided before play has begun. However, upset after upset serves as examples that no matter how large the task may seem, the game isn’t over until it’s over.

From the opening tip it was apparent the Wolves came to play. The John Paul fans went crazy when JP scored the opening basket of the game. Little did everyone know, the 2-0 lead would be the closest margin for the entire contest.

Within moments the lead had grown to nearly double-digits before the Eagles tallied their first points. Turnovers by Clinton Christian, coupled with fast-break conversions off of those free possessions, put the Wolves ahead 15-7 after the first quarter.

Frustration began to set in for the Eagles. They missed many close opportunities near the basket, and the Wolves continued their solid work of boxing out and hustling down in transition. Quick baskets and stingy defense helped the Wolves increase their lead even more. At many points when 6’8″ Phillips would receive the ball, he would be quadruple-teamed, thus not …   More

Want to win two tickets to see Casting Crowns, with opening acts Mandisa and Sidewalk Prophets, at the Patriot Center Dec. 4?

The Grammy award-winning Christian rock band is on tour to promote their latest album, Thrive, released earlier this year. For a chance to win, post a video of yourself on Vine explaining why you want the tickets. Make sure you’re following the Herald on Vine and tag us in the caption. We’ll pick the video we like best, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

A winner will be chosen by noon Dec. 3, so get your entries in soon! UPDATE: Deadline extended to 9 a.m. Dec. 4! You must be able to pick up the tickets in person at 200 N Glebe Road, Arlington, by 5 p.m. that same afternoon.

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