The Real Presence and Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament – Eucharist 2024


As much as your soul needs time of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, it isn’t always easy to accomplish. Time is limited. Your mind wanders. It can feel difficult to be present to Jesus or feel His presence with you. Dr. Edward Sri looks at some of the common challenges you might face in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and offers practical suggestions to overcoming them.

Thank you for watching and participating in this retreat!

Not Registered, yet? Don’t miss the rest of the talks! Register for the Pray More Retreat!


Audio MP3

Click here to download the audio file.

Printable Study Guide PDF

Click here to download the printable study guide.

Printable Transcript PDF

Click here to download the transcript of the video presentation.

Reflective Study Guide Questions

Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love.”

Pope St. John Paul II

1. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Is it time, is it accessibility, is it difficult to focus or feel His presence?

2. How can you build up a habit of prayer in your daily life? What are the obstacles that need to be overcome in order to constantly show up for prayer?

3. What lies do you believe about your prayer life or about Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?

4. Are you approaching prayer with the best of intentions? What do you need to let go of in order to truly offer him your best, even if your best still feels like you accomplished nothing?

Text: Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament

Hi, I am Dr. Edwards Sri, and I’m so excited to continue our journey through this Eucharistic retreat. And I want to pick up on one theme before we open in prayer to use for our prayer, one theme from our reflection on holy communion.

Mary’s First Holy Communion

Have you ever wondered what it would’ve been like for Mary, the blessed Virgin Mary to receive her first holy communion, what that would’ve meant for her? You know, St. John Paul II reflected on this once, he said, “What must Mary have felt when she heard from the mouth of Peter, James, John, and the other apostles? The words spoken at the last supper, this is my body, which is given up for you. The body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb.” That’s incredible!

So it’s just, think about that, that Mary, in, a sense, for those nine months of her pregnancy, she had the baby Jesus dwelling within her, the body and blood of Jesus dwelling within her. She anticipates eucharistic faith in a sense. Because that’s what happens to us when we receive communion. We receive sacramentally, that same body and blood of Jesus, we become like Mary. But think about what this would’ve meant for Mary, though.

You know, Mary gave birth to the Christ child, watched Him grow up, watched Him be killed, and then He rose from the dead and eventually ascends into heaven. And then one day she goes to her first mass. We don’t know when that was or where, but imagine her going to that first mass. What would her first communion have meant for her? John Paul II says, these words “For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb, that heart, which had beat in unison with hers.”

What a beautiful reunion of the mother and the son, And I want to take that as a launching point for our prayer as we begin our next session to ponder that mystery of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father and the Son of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Mother Mary, we ask you to pray for us. We imagine you and how you felt carrying the son of God in your womb for those nine months of your pregnancy. But we also imagine the great joy you had in receiving Holy Communion that very first time, that tender love you had for your son, the body and blood of Jesus dwelling within you again this time in the Eucharist.

Mary, pray for us that we may be attentive like you would’ve been, that we may have heartfelt devotion like you would’ve had at every communion. And Mary, pray for us that we may go to the blessed sacrament with longing hearts, attentive hearts, burning hearts like yours would’ve been. You would’ve longed to go to be close to the real presence as much as you could pray for us, then we may enter into that mystery in our own lives today. Amen. In the name of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit, Amen.

A Story of St. Clare of Assisi

To start off, I want to tell you a story about one of my favorite saints when I do my pilgrimages to Rome. We do a day trip up to Assisi, and we go to the Church of Saint Clare of Assisi. And in the crypt of that church there, there’s her tomb and around her tomb, there’s various images telling different stories from her life. One of my favorite stories I love to share with the pilgrims is about what happened toward the end of her life. She was frail, she was ill, she was, in bed, and then there was a great tragedy happening in the city of Assisi.

A foreign army was invading. It was the Saracens, and they’re killing people left and right and bringing devastation. And they’re starting to approach the convent. And the other sisters in the convent are panicking, and they rush to Clare in a panic. “Clare, Clare, the Saracens are coming! What do we do? What do we do?” And then Clare calmly rises and goes to the blessed sacrament. She goes to the tabernacle and she kneels down and then lays prostrate before Jesus. And she says, a prayer in which she tells Jesus, you’ve, you’ve always been there for me, You’ve always protected me. I beg you, protect us now. And Jesus says that He will, He is always going to be with her.

And then what Clare does is she rises from this time in prayer before the blessed sacrament, and she takes the Ciborium, the vessel that holds the sacred host. And she goes, and instead of running away in fear from the Saracens, she goes with Jesus in the Eucharist. She goes with Jesus in the Eucharist, out to the Saracens And when the Saracens see her, they see this older woman coming out with such confidence, such boldness, such indomitability, and, and they see her holding the Eucharist, they are the ones panicking and they flee.

And I share that story with you because I want to ask you a question. When you face moments of difficulty, moments of trial moments where you’re, you’re panicking about something, maybe it’s something going on at work. Maybe it’s something going on in a dating relationship that you’re worried isn’t going to work out, or something going on in your marriage or with one of your kids, or a financial thing, or something going on with your boss.

Whenever you have these troubles, where do you go? Do you go to Instagram? Do you go to social media to just distract you from your troubles? Do you just go and, you know, think, think, think I got to solve the upon you? And you’re all in a tizzy and you’re all panicked and you’re trying to think through and how to solve the problem. Or do you go to the one person who can truly make a difference? Jesus, in the Eucharist. St. Clare’s instinct, when there was great trouble besieging her, was to go straight to the blessed sacrament. And that’s a great reminder for all of us.

Story About Father John Hardin

I’m going to share with you a story of a modern saintly man. he was a priest that I was blessed to actually live with a Jesuit priest. I was spending time doing some work with him, but also doing the day exercises, the spiritual retreat with him. And, I lived with him for several months, and his name was Father John Hardin. And he had an incredible devotion to the Eucharist. I remember as a young man wanting to live with him because he was known as a theologian, a great catechist. He wrote many, many books on the Catholic faith. And I was going to learn a lot of his theology. That was my hope. And I did learn a lot of theology from him. But more, much more than his theology was his way of life. His devotion to Our Lady, devotion to the church, to confession, but most especially to the Eucharist, you see, every day he would just make regular visits. We lived in this Jesuit house, and we’d be in the refractory having lunch, and we had to go to his office, and his office was this way, but he always would make the long route and go to the blessed sacrament, stop and say a prayer, and then go to his office.

And I noticed that he would spend time, like when he was working on his next manuscript, he would have his pen and paper out, and he’d be writing in the chapel over here in the blessed, in front of the blessed Sacrament. He wanted to bring his work close to Jesus. And whenever there was trouble, whenever there was something going wrong, he immediately went to the blessed sacrament. And, and that really left a big impression on me. And I pray that these stories of saintly men and women can make an impression on you because present in the blessed sacrament, He’s there in the Tabernacles. If you have a Eucharistic adoration chapel close to your home, that’s awesome. Spend time there. But you can do adoration without the monstrous and the adoration chapel. It could just be in your ordinary church. You can go before the blessed sacrament in the tabernacle and draw near, because here’s what I want to share with you, my friends, is that, that love wants to be near the one it loves, right? When you love someone, you want, you want to be near the one you love. God is love. And He loves us so much. He became one of us. He died for us, as I mentioned, the last session when He rose from the dead, of course, but, but He remains present to us. He wants to be close to us.

Make An Appointment to Visit Jesus

Saint John Paul II says, “Jesus awaits you.” He’s awaiting for you to come to him in the sacrament of love. Will we take time? Will we make it a priority? You know, we can’t just say, well, I hope maybe someday if it fits in I’ll, I’ll go visit the blessed Sacrament. No, you got to schedule, you got to make an appointment, right? You don’t wake up on a Tuesday morning and say, oh, I hope maybe I’ll see the doctor, you know, maybe I’ll bump into him today. No, no. You make an appointment, you put it in your plan, you put it in your schedule, it’s in your calendar. Do you make time to go visit Him?

Now, everyone’s life situation is different. You may not be close to a church, or maybe you are close to a church, but the doors aren’t open that often, and it doesn’t fit in your schedule. You know, whatever your situation is, do you at least long, do you long to be near Him? And can you pray to Jesus in your own home and say, Jesus, I want time with you in the blessed sacrament. I want to come close to you. He loves it when we at least take the time to say, I want this, Can you find a way, Jesus, that this could make it, make it work in my schedule and my family life or my career where I am right now, can I fit this in? You know, I think you can easily, if you can, you could. If you pass by a church on your way to work, can you just stop in and spend five, ten minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

When you’re running errands, can you pop in and, and spend time in front of the blessed sacrament, even if you have little kids; It’s a beautiful thing. I was in a eucharistic, adoration chapel this morning, and I saw several moms at, different times. I was there doing a holy hour, and I saw mom come in with her little kid and the kids a little unruly and playing and making a little noise, but it wasn’t terrible. And, God rejoices, bring the children to me, He says, that’s what Jesus said, right? So you can figure this out to find a way, if you can, to draw near to Him. He’s longing for you.

Blessed Carlo Acutis’ Story

Blessed Carlo Acutis, another great Assisi saint. We go to his tomb when we visit Assisi as well. I didn’t even know that he’s from Assisi, so great connections with saints before him, but Carlo Acutis, you may know his story, a young teenage boy that died of leukemia, but had a great devotion to the Eucharist. And he built a website and was teaching the world about Eucharistic miracles, he’s amazing. But one of the things he said was this, He says, you know, when you sit in the sun, you get a suntan. And then when you sit in the presence of the Eucharist in adoration, you become a saint.

In other words, when you’re out in the sun, you’re on the beach, or just out watching your kids at a soccer game, your skin begins to change color. It takes on, you know, you’re getting a suntan from the sun. The same thing is by just being present with Jesus, spending time with Him in the blessed sacrament. We start to become changed. We become transformed. And if you want to really be changed, you want to get time with Him. And again, if you could do it every day, that’s amazing. But maybe that doesn’t work in your life, in your family schedule, but can you at least go once a week? Can you get time? I know this is something Beth and I used to do, You know, from my work, I’ve been able to work at places where there’s chapels. It was really easy to get to, but where there was a season of life where we lived in a place where it wasn’t easy and with the kids, and the mass times just didn’t match up. So it was a little harder for us as a family to sometimes get to an adoration chapel and get to pray.

But on the weekends, I made sure, honey, I’ll watch the kids so that you can take time. Or on a Monday, we used to do Monday, Monday with Mommy, where I would be home with the kids and get them all ready for bed. But then she would rotate and take one different child to go with her to the adoration chapel. They’d get to do, pray for a half hour, and then go out for a little treat afterwards, be creative.

Jesus Wants to Spend Time With Us

But Jesus is there, and He wants to spend time with us. You know, if I told you your favorite, you know, sports star, was coming to your town, or your favorite musician, you know if I told you, if I told the world Taylor Swift was coming to your town, everyone would drop everything and go try to see her, right? Well, someone more important than Taylor Swift is near you in your church in the Tabernacle. And that’s Jesus infinitely more important than any rock star, any famous Catholic celebrity, any, any famous athlete, any famous movie star Jesus is present in your town.

You know, if your bishop called you up and said, Hey, I’m coming to your town. Can I take you for coffee? You know, sometime today around your schedule, would you find time in your schedule to meet with your bishop? Probably, and I’m sure bishop’s amazing, but even more amazing than your bishop is Jesus. He’s present to you, will we take time to be with Him?

When Your Prayer Life is Dry

Now, that being said, I got to be honest, I mentioned this earlier, that prayer in front of the Blessed sacrament isn’t always easy. It’s an amazing gift, and we want to make sure we’re, we’re taking time to be with Him. But sometimes when we’re praying in front of the blessed sacrament, we fall asleep. Sometimes our mind wanders. Sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m ardently giving Jesus my heart. I’d rather be doing other things. I’m thinking about projects I’ve got to get done. And I’m just not as present to Him as He’s present to me.

Then there’s other times where we go through seasons in life where we don’t feel Jesus’s presence. I mean, we may know theologically He’s there, but we don’t feel close to Him. We wonder, where are you? God, where are you? I don’t feel like we’re connecting like we used to. I’m going through a period of darkness, the desert in my prayer life. Why is prayer arid and dry sometimes? What’s happening now? There could be many things that are happening there. It could be maybe I’m just not praying consistently. You know, if I just show up every once in a while, I can’t expect that my prayer life is going to be that deep.

So maybe I just need to make a commitment to daily prayer life. Even if I can’t get to the Blessed Sacrament, even on my own home, from my car, from my, you know, my time at work, you know, is there, is there a way I can get some time in prayer every day? You know, 15, 20, minutes of quiet time, not just saying prayers or doing devotions, but, you know, maybe Lectio Divina, Ignatian meditation where you’re having a conversation with God, where you’re listening to His scriptures, listening to a writing of a saint, maybe, or a nice devotional book, and then you’re talking to God about it. You’re not just reading, but you’re listening and having a dialogue interiorly many resources you can turn to find out, about how to pray, but it’s important that we have time every day for it. So that could be one reason why prayer is dry, because I just haven’t built up the habit yet. I just got to get into a rhythm and have a consistency, consistent daily prayer life. Maybe it’s because I’m showing up and I’m checking my phone all the time.

You know, that could be a problem. Put your phone away, turn off all notifications. Maybe turn your phone off if you know it’s a distraction. Because you’re trying to pray to Jesus and you’re always looking over here. It’s kind of like, you know, like if you’re talking to someone, you know, a friend or a coworker or maybe even your spouse, and maybe you want to share something really important with someone you love, and imagine that person, you know, is listening to, but they look over here and they’re listening, oh, yeah, yeah, I’m listening to you. And then all of a sudden they, you know, hear, you hear a little vibration, a little buzz noise, and then they turn away.

You know, how does that feel? Like you don’t feel like you’re going to be able to connect with that person? Well Jesus wants to connect with you, and if you’re constantly going to your phone and, and looking at all the notifications, you’re not going to be fully present, right? There could be many reasons why we’re not praying well, and it we’re not connecting with Jesus. That’s on our end. But what I want to share with you now is some wisdom from the saints about how even when we come with the best of intentions, and we’re sincere and we’re really trying, and there’s nothing we’re doing wrong, we can experience great periods of darkness and distraction and dryness and prayer. Why is that happening?

The Devil Wants To Break Your Commitment to Prayer

St. Catherine of Sienna was writing a spiritual letter to someone, and she explained that, that sometimes the reason we think prayer isn’t going well is because it’s the devil. It’s the devil discouraging us. The devil discouraging us because the devil wants us to think our prayer is not pleasing to God. Now, let’s think about this. You know, so prayer is so important. The devil knows how powerful prayer is. And if we develop the habit of daily prayer, consistent time every day, like , minutes of quiet time in prayer, not just saying prayers or listening to something, but actual quiet time and conversation like we talked about.

If we have that every day, then the devil knows we’re going to start really taking off in our spiritual life. He can’t get at us as deeply, as easily, so he’ll do everything he can to get us to stop praying. He’ll get us say, you’re too busy, you don’t have any time for this. But it’ll also discourage us, he’ll exploit our sincere desire to pray. I want to pray, and my acute awareness that I’m not that good at it. And, and he’ll exploit that, and he’ll get us to think, oh, you stink at prayer. You’re not good at prayer. You don’t get anything outta prayer. Why bother? Your prayer is not pleasing to God, so don’t even bother showing up anymore. It’s not worth your time. If you ever have those thoughts, no, they’re not coming from God. They’re coming from the enemy who wants you to break your commitment to prayer.

Keep on Showing Up

So what does Catherine of Sienna tell us we need to do? There’s two key things we need to do. First, we need to persevere. We just got to keep showing up because love is not about feelings. It’s not about, I think many times people think prayer is about my feelings, and do I feel close to God in prayer? And, and those are great when they come, but just like in marriage, Beth and I, we’ve been married about years. We’re going to celebrate years this summer, and we’ve had many great times where it’s like last night, we got to go on date night. It’s really fun. But there’s other times where, you know, we just got to, you know, roll up our sleeves and work and, you know, take care of the sick kids. And, you know, there’s not all this powerful romantic feeling.

And then there’s other times where we have feelings, but maybe we’re frustrated with each other, you know? So feelings aren’t the measure of love. The key is do I still show up? Do I take care of my wife? Do I serve her? Do I serve our children at two thirty in the morning when my kids are waking up and, and, and making a lot of noise? And I have to keep putting them back to bed. I don’t have a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings like I do when I’m playing games with them or wrestling with them or holding them. And, you know, love isn’t about the feelings. It’s about being faithful. So do I persevere? Will I be faithful and I just show up to prayer even if I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of it? Love resides in the will. So I make the act of the will to be there for you, Jesus, even if I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of it, and I persevere. And I remember that even if I don’t feel anything, I know spending time with you in your presence, especially in the blessed sacrament, filling my mind with your word and the wisdom of the saints, I know that that’s good for my soul, even if I don’t feel it.

Come With A Good Intention

So persevere. That’s the first thing Catherine tells. The second thing Catherine of Sienna says is, you can always give God your good intention. You can always give God your good intention. You see, St. Thomas Aquinas and other great Dominican saint tells us that we’re not angels, we’re not going to be able to have perfect attention during prayer. Our minds are going to wander. But if we come with a good intention, I sincerely want to give you everything that I’m going to try to block out my, you know, what’s happening at work. And I’m not going to bring my todo list. I’m not going to go look at my phone. I’m coming with a good intention. I’m going to really try to pray that good intention is like the foundation for my entire prayer time, so that even if I lose attention, I could give God my good intention.

It reminds me of a true story. There was a Dominican priest I know that was doing a retreat for Mother Theresa. And, he left the chapel and he was feeling a little, little blue, a little discouraged about his time in prayer. He thought he was maybe not as present as he could have been in prayer, but he didn’t say anything to Mother Teresa and anybody else, and they’re leaving the chapel and Mother Teresa, they’re just talking about the schedule for the day. And all of a sudden, mother Teresa says, father, never leave the chapel feeling discouraged, never feel angry or bitter at yourself, never feel like you accomplish nothing. Give God that nothing. And then she proceeds to walk out and talk, okay, after lunch, we’re going to do this. And she read his soul, and this was a powerful moment. But I love that line that even if I feel like I accomplished nothing, I could still give God even my nothing.

In other words, I can go to God in humility as many saints have, and said, Lord, like I don’t know how to pray. Saint Paul said that, Lord, we don’t know how to pray as we ought. The great apostle Paul struggled in prayer. If you ever struggle in prayer in front of the blessed sacrament, don’t be discouraged. Know that St. Paul and all the saints had seasons like this, but what we could do is we could say, Lord, I felt like I accomplished nothing, but I’m going to give you this. I give you my nothing. This is the best I could do today. I need your grace, I want to be better, And, in your time and through your grace, my prayer will get better, but I need you. This is how broken I am, I need you, Lord. I think the Lord loves it when we come to Him humble like that.

A Mother’s Day Memory

You know, it reminds me of a mother’s day a few years ago, my little girls went out into the field behind our house to go pick some flowers for mom for Mother’s Day, put it in a vase and, and filled it up with water. And were just so excited to, for mom to wake up and come down the stairs. Now, I got to tell you what they put in the vase wasn’t beautiful flowers like you’ll find at the florist. So it wasn’t roses and daisies. No, no. It was a bunch of weeds. A bunch of weeds.

Now, I, if you were a kid and you were picking weeds, there’s one weed that looks kind of like a flower. It’s kind of pretty like those yellow dandelions, right? Wouldn’t that be cool if they got yellow dandelions? That’s not what they got. They got those ugly, thorny, spiky, thorny weeds that looked like they came out of Mordor and put them in this vase and gave them the Beth and Beth just kind of chuckles inside. But she smiles and she gives them a big hug, and she says to the girls, oh, thank you girls! These are beautiful. I love you. You see, it was just a bunch of weeds and ugly weeds. But Beth saw beyond what was in the vase, she saw what was in their hearts and that the little girls wanted to give their mommy a present.

I think that’s how our heavenly father looks at us. We’re coming to Jesus and wanting to give Him a present in prayer. But sometimes that presence is just a bunch of weeds, or sometimes the vase is empty, and I feel like I can just give nothing. Jesus sees beyond all of that. He sees beyond the weeds, He sees beyond the nothing He sees our hearts that we’re coming desiring to give Him a gift. So never leave the chapel feeling discouraged, never feel bitter. Know that you’re faithful and you just show up and with a good intention, right? You’re not, you know doing your shopping list during prayer or you’re not looking at your phone during prayer. You’re really giving your best. You’re trying at least, even if it ends up a bunch of weeds or it ends up a bunch of nothing, God rejoices in that, and we could still give that as a gift.

An Act of Trust

I want to close by sharing with you an insight from one great saint. Anyone loves Saint Faustina? Listen to what she says about, some of our struggles in prayer and what she says applies to prayer as a whole. But I think especially when we’re in front of the blessed sacrament, Jesus is really there. And even if I don’t feel His presence, He’s still that sun shining on me, changing me. And I have to trust Him to trust that this time in His presence is still valuable. To make it a priority, to put it in my schedule, even when I don’t feel close. It actually is doing something really great in my life if I persevere and give Him my intention.

Here’s what Saint Faustina says, “One act of trust at such moments gives greater glory to God than whole hours past in prayer filled with constellations.” I love that line. So one act of trust in those moments of darkness and dryness in prayer actually gives God more glory than when you have those times of delight and consolation and prayer. And always remember that God is really there no matter where you’re praying, you know, whether it’s at home or in the blessed sacrament, you know, but especially in adoration, if you feel like it’s not going well, that trust that this is valuable, that just being in His presence is changing me, that act of trust may give God more praise and more glory than all those times when I’m on a retreat high and have this great time in prayer, and I get those feelings and constellations. So let’s be faithful, let’s go with our good intentions and let’s trust in in the one who comes so close to us every time in prayer.

Closing Prayer

In the name the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end, Amen. In the name the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Thank you so much. I’ll be praying for all of you in this retreat, and if you could please pray for me and my family, I would greatly appreciate that. Thanks so much and God bless.

About Dr. Edward Sri

Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, author and well-known Catholic speaker who presents to tens of thousands of people from around the world each year, including clergy, parish leaders, catechists, and laity. He has written several best-selling books, including The Art of Living; A Biblical Walk Through the Mass; No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk through Christ’s Passion; Walking with Mary; Who Am I to Judge? – Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love; and Into His Likeness: Be Transformed as a Disciple. His latest books include, When You Pray: Trust, Surrender and the Transformation of Your Soul and a book on marriage that he co-authored with his wife Beth called The Good, the Messy and the Beautiful: The Joys and Struggles of Real Married Life.

Edward Sri is also the presenter of several Ascension Press faith formation film series, including: A Biblical Walk through the Mass; Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother; Behold the Lamb of God: 60 Questions and Answers on the Mystery of the Eucharist and When You Pray: A Clear Path to a Deeper Relationship with God. He also was the presenter for Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained from the Augustine Institute.

He is a founding leader with Curtis Martin of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), where he currently serves as Sr. Vice President of Apostolic Outreach. Dr. Sri leads pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land each year and is the host of the acclaimed podcast “All Things Catholic.” He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and is an adjunct professor at the Augustine Institute. He resides with his wife Elizabeth and their eight children in Littleton, Colorado.

You can learn more and follow Dr. Sri here:

Facebook, Twitter, Podcast: All Things Catholic with Edward Sri, and at