When I was in the seminary, we were taught that the Catholic Church rested on a three legged stool:
Sacred Tradition, Teaching Authority of the church, Sacred Scripture.
One of those legs is a lot shorter than the other two. That leads to a lack of balance. When I was very active in the Catholic Church, my wife and I tried desperately to get the short leg in balance. We were rebuffed at every effort. We are both extremely happy and at peace where we are.
There is sooo much more to Jesus. We have a much deeper relationship with Jesus, which has grown with our study of Scripture.
When I was 39 years old, I finally met Jesus, face-to-face as it were, for the first time. It was also at the time that I fell in love with the Scriptures. I have not been the same since. However, when my hunger for Scripture could not be satisfied in the Catholic Church, I began to look elsewhere. I now attend a congregation that focuses on Jesus and the Scripture. I find that narrow focus much more to my liking. Without minimizing the efficacy of the Eucharist, I find that studying the Scripture has brought me much closer to Jesus than I have ever been; and the more I involve myself in the Scripture, the hungrier I get for more. I suppose that the many focuses that the Catholic Church has serve it well; there are far too many for me.
I have learned so much about Jesus, I have become so personally related to Him through my study and devotion to Him in His Word, the Scripture. Jesus is the Word of God. The Scripture is Jesus, just as the Eucharist is. By taking in the Scripture, I receive Jesus just as I do when I receive Him in the Eucharist. I am being fed on the Word of God. I have found that I grow spiritually, much more with Scripture than I do without it.
The church, the Body of Christ, is one, under the headship of Jesus. The members of the Catholic Church who are trusting believers in Jesus, are members of that Body.
Because Jesus led me to search for a closer relationship with Him, I am not in grave sin. Because He is not leading me back to membership in the Catholic Church, I am not in grave sin. I certainly believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus, and I cherish it's reception, I also am fed daily on His Word. That feeding has brought me closer to Jesus than I ever had been before.
Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant to say that you and your wife “tried desperately to get the short leg in balance” when you consider that the Catholic Church has existed for over 2000 years and she was founded by Christ, was gifted with the Holy Spirit and she was promised that not even the gates of hell would prevail against her?
But we do agree on some things.
The Church is the Body of Christ.
Jesus is the head of the Body of Christ.
Believers are members of the Body of Christ, if they believe in Christ and follow His commands. (This is where we disagree because you say the Body of Christ is simply those who are trusting believers – and this is why I suggested that your study of the Bible include the Gospels, and most especially the words of Jesus). It is not enough to be a trusting believer in Jesus to be called His follower. “Not all who say to me, Lord, Lord will be saved. But only he who does the work of the Father.” “To the goats I will say depart from me for when I was naked you did not clothe me, when I was sick you did not nurse me, when I was thirsty you did not give me a drink, when I was imprisoned you did not visit me. And to the sheep, I will say to them, enter into your rest… for when I was…you did…” “Unless he is born of water and the spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of God.” “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, there can be no life in you.” “If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, I will raise you up on the last day.”
Here’s the thing that stumps me. You certainly believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus. You cherish its reception. (Your words) How could you ever be content to go without Jesus, knowing as you do that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? How could you ever take a pass on the Eucharist in exchange for the written word – when you never had to give up the written word in the first place?
It’s like knowing that Jesus Christ is physically and spiritually present in one room of the house and you deliberately avoid that room because in another room of the house you know there is a letter that He’s written you and there’s someone in that room who can read that letter with great zeal and make it come alive for you.
And yet, in the room where Jesus is – really and truly – you will also find the written Word. And you will also find the ones who penned the written Word, too - Saints throughout the ages.
You choose the room without the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, your Lord.
I choose all of it. I choose Jesus Christ, physically present in the Eucharist. I choose the room with Christ and that room also has His Written Word. In that room, I find the Bride of Christ. Because a Bride would always choose the room of Her Bridegroom. She would not settle for a room that only had His love letters. Even if someone in that other room could read those letters with such passion that it was almost like having her Groom really there.
The Bride would want all of Her Bridegroom. Really. Truly. All of Him.
So that’s what stumps me. Why would you stop receiving the Eucharist, exchanging it for a teacher who is great at animating the written Word, though I’m sure he is very good at it?
You didn’t have to give anything up at all. You can have the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, AND you can have His written Word. And you can even get the best Bible study teachers EVER – by reading the Saints.
You can have ALL that God wants you to have. The Word. And the Word Incarnate. Scripture and Eucharist.
As for me? I’m hanging out in the Bride’s room – with the Bridegroom. And I would guess that I’m enjoying the Bible as much as anyone.