Here are two really good sections from Benedict XVI's address to the Swiss Bishops during their recent ad limina visit. They illustrate why institutional and theological issues really are vital to our spiritual lives.
"In the Church, the institution is not merely an external structure while the Gospel is purely spiritual. In fact, the Gospel and the Institution are inseparable because the Gospel has a body, the Lord has a body in this time of ours. Consequently, issues that seem at first sight merely institutional are actually theological and central, because it is a matter of the realization and concretization of the Gospel in our time."
"I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.
If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears.
I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith -- a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.In this perspective I would now like to continue by completing last Tuesday's reflections and to stress once again: what matters above all is to tend one's personal relationship with God, with that God who revealed himself to us in Christ."