Years ago, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, I heard an absolutely stellar homily given by Fr. Muang, a chaplain for Mother Teresa's Sisters in Indianapolis. It changed my outlook on these heavenly friends of mine forever. In his homily, Father told us a story about when he was a seminarian, he was in Latin America, riding on wild, winding mountain roads with an out-to-lunch driver who didn't seem to mind tossing his passengers in all directions. Racked with terror, he sat gripping his front seat, finding in it a smidgen of security.

At one point, however, he desperately had to get up to go to the restroom in the back of the bus. After he returned, he found that a man had stolen his seat. He was annoyed and determined to punch the guy in the nose. However, he felt a little nudge by his guardian angel to “live up to his Roman collar” and be like Christ, and let the man have his seat. Father listened to the gnawing of his conscience – he felt he just had to – and he went to the back of the bus and sat down.

Soon after, the bus took a bad turn, flipped over, and a number of the passengers were killed in the crash – including the man who had taken his seat.

Fr. Muang believes that God saved his life on that day so that he could serve the Church all throughout his life as a holy priest. In his homily, Father explained that ever since that experience, he has always prayed to his guardian angel before he went anywhere – even when he was just crossing the street.

For years after I heard that homily, I prayed to my guardian angel every time I went anywhere in my car. One early morning I was heading out for Mass, however, and I forgot to pray my guardian angel prayer. Sure enough, a van rammed into my car, and it was totaled. My head went into the windshield, and I suffered injuries, but there was no permanent damage.

I don't want to sound superstitious, but I do believe in the mind-blowing, impelling power of prayer. I have witnessed it work marvels upon marvels, just over here in North Dakota, the rural no man's land of nothing particularly special (except for the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the coldest average annual temperatures in the continental United States). Throughout all of history, the power of prayer has brought about the most awe-inspiring conversions, stopped ruthless dictators in their tracks, and brought babies to the infertile. It has been the inspiration behind the most phenomenal artistic works the world has ever known. It's beyond awesome – but do we treat it that way?

I believe that Moses should be a real hero of ours – as in, a man we want to be like on a daily basis. I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and I can only imagine the pain his arms were in as he kept them raised for hours on end to God on high. The Saints of Mother Church became canonized Saints by making prayer their comrade, their “right-hand man,” and their maternal source of hope. The Saints tried to birth each act of theirs from prayer, and to lay each act to rest in prayer. Prayer was their cove of trust and their island of peace. As St. Faustina once said, “Patience, prayer and silence – these give strength to the soul.”

My childhood pastor (a Christian Reformed minister) was one of these men with a heart as warm as the sun, and arms always ready to embrace someone in need of it. Although he was a liberal Christian Reformed minister, he shared a beautiful (though incomplete) link with God, and a profound love for spiritual things. He once wrote, “Prayer is the Christian's vital breath, the Christian's native air.”

We all know that after a couple of minutes of not breathing, we'll die. So let's breathe. Let's hold up our “spiritual arms” like Moses until they ache so badly we just can't take it anymore.

Indeed, as St. Pio of Pietrelcina believed, “Prayer is the best weapon we possess, the key that opens the heart of God.” I don't know about you, but it doesn't sound so bad to me to have access to the heart of the King of the Universe any time of the day or night, not to mention His fabulous mother.

Let us be magnanimous Catholics; let us ride the winds of Catholicism, and embrace our sacred religion in all its grandeur – by being so filled with prayer that we disappear into its oasis of wonder, serenity and mystical power.