Perhaps the easiest way to understand the craziness in the Church these days, which has been brewing for a long time, is to understand that too many leaders have it completely backwards. They believe that you first "encounter" Jesus, come to love Him, and only then come to know Him. In short, loving comes before knowing, which is completely idiotic thinking. It's not even thinking.
That would imply some kind of intellectual appraisal of the fact of salvation. No, theirs is all about emoting. How on earth can anyone love that which they do not know? It is one of the most basic tenets of any honest philosophy: You can't love what you do not know. How can you come to love something which you do not yet sufficiently understand?
Authentic love is built on knowledge, because love is an act of the will, and the will is informed by the intellect. For example, when you meet someone for the first time you are intensely attracted to, you don't know anything about them, really — maybe a little something, but certainly not enough to pledge your undying love for them. If that comes, it comes over time once you get to know them more.
Now a couple may decide to simply move on their emotions, which have very little to do with the intellect, and spend all kinds of time together and be in deep puppy love or even in lust with each other, all the while convincing themselves that their emotional or physical attraction is love. But it's not.
Love is an act of the will, and it requires knowledge of the beloved — knowledge is a necessary ingredient — and to extend our example of the madly "in love" couple who don't really know each other; once that passion wears off, and they actually do get to know each other, it usually crashes and burns.
That voice, for example, that was once like the song of the angels now sounds like a train screeching to a halt. Or that carefree approach to life by your "beloved" who once beguiled you now registers in your mind as pure laziness. Why do people suddenly fall "in love" and then do a complete 180, usually after the first fight? Because they come to know something about the other person that they don't like, fight about it and throw in the towel.
All of this is true with an approach to Catholicism that puts the cart before the horse, supposedly "loving" Christ before knowing Him. To know Our Blessed Lord is to love Him. And you know Him through the Church, because the Church is Him, is His Bride.
When you're around a couple who have been married for years and truly love one another, to know one is to know the other — perhaps not in every little detail, but certainly on the whole. This is true of the Groom and Bride — of Christ and the Catholic Church — to know one is to know the other, and from that knowledge, you fall in love.
But too many of today's Churchmen want cheap love, which isn't love at all but spiritual lust, a phony love based on feelings of self-satisfaction, where knowledge of Christ is considered an impediment to love. That's a complete placing of the cart before the horse.
There is only one way to attain love with Christ, and that is through the means He personally established to accomplish this: through His Holy Catholic Church and Her teachings. This is what is so completely wrong and un-Catholic in so many Catholic settings these days — the teachings are either not taught or taught as something extraneous. "First establish a 'relationship' with Christ and then we can get down to the messier stuff" seems to be the order of the day.
How else can a person be in "relation" to Christ other than through His teachings? And those teachings come solely from the Catholic Church. If you want to love Our Blessed Lord, have a real relationship with the authentic Christ, love Him, then ignore what huge numbers of Catholic clergy are saying to you and pay attention to what He Himsel tells you: "If you Love me, then keep my commandments."
That would be pretty hard to do if you didn't know what they were.