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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
St. Dominic, in order to restore peace to the Church torn and bloodied by the heresy of the Albigensians, wanted to associate all Christian hearts in the same prayer and in the same thought of faith. By instituting, at the request of the Blessed Virgin Mary Herself, this way of praying, which has since spread throughout the Church under the beautiful name of the Rosary, St. Dominic set out to combat heresy through prayer and faith: through prayer, by imploring the help of the One whom the Church has proclaimed the guardian of orthodoxy, by saying to Her in the liturgy “Rejoice and be glad, Virgin Mary, You alone have exterminated all heresies throughout the universe; by faith, by proposing to the meditation of the faithful the principal mysteries of the redemption, linking together, interwoven with simple and sublime prayers, the fundamental truths of Christianity.”
Although Christians, says Fr. Lacordaire, were accustomed to turn their hearts to Mary, yet the immemorial use of the Angelical Salutation had nothing regulated or solemn about it. The pious servants of the Blessed Virgin did not gather to address it to their beloved Protector, each one following the impulse of his love for Her, when Dominic, faithful to the recommendation of Mary Herself and knowing all the strength of association in prayer, believed that it would be useful to apply it to the Angelical Salutation, and that this clamor of a whole assembled people would rise to heaven with a great power. The very brevity of the Angel’s words demanded that they be repeated a certain number of times, like those united cheers which the gratitude of the nations throws upon the passage of the Sovereigns. But repetition could lead to distraction of the mind, and Dominic provided for this by dividing the oral salutations into several series, to each of which he attached the thought of one of the mysteries of our redemption, which were in turn for the Blessed Virgin a subject of joy, sorrow and triumph. In this way, intimate meditation was united with public prayer, and the people, in greeting their Mother and Queen, followed Her, in the depths of their hearts, in every principal event of Her life. St. Dominic set up a confraternity to better ensure the permanence and solemnity of this mode of supplication.
His pious undertaking was blessed with the greatest of all successes, a popular success. The Christian people have been attached to it from century to century with incredible fidelity.