With the new translation of the Roman Missal last year and now a different translation of the Scriptures (Revised Standard Version) in the Lectionary, we have heard a lot about the quality of translations.
It is interesting to note that the word ‘translation” comes from the Latin (trans-fero/ transfer) and means in the first place ‘change of place’. It is this original means that the Eastern Church uses to refer to death: death in the Christian perspective is a change. Our Preface of the Dead (in Masses for the Dead) says “Life is changed, not ended”.
In the context of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, the Eastern Church speaks of her ‘Translation’ into glory.
The Eastern Church also speaks about the Dormition of Mary. We are familiar with the word ‘Dormitory” – a place where people sleep. To “sleep in the Lord” is a way of speaking about Christian death. The Greek for this “sleeping” or “dormition” is “koimesis” from which we get the word “cemetery”.
Celebrating the Assumption of Mary alerts us to the many dimensions of Christian discipleship. All true disciples hope to “fall asleep in the Lord” and in God’s good time to share in the glory of the Risen Christ. In delighting that Mary already is translated fully into the Glory of her Son, we are actually also looking forward to our share in the same glory.
We are, in other words, hoping to be fully translated into God and to enjoy the company of all the angels and saints.
May Mary Assumed into heaven pray for South Africa that we may keep our gaze fixed on heavenly things as we build up the Kingdom of her Son in this beautiful land.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.