"All your affections are being reordered."
I had no idea what Sister Margaret meant as she tried to give me encouragement in my early days of becoming a nun. I'd made the leap of faith (supported not only by prayer but a great deal of research and scrutiny) to pursue religious life but was not at all ready for how I would begin to feel and "be" differently with the world around me.
I had parents, siblings, good friends, casual friends, colleagues, relatives, and -- at an increasingly alarming rate -- nun friends! But my nun friends weren't just "the sisters" any more. They were "my sisters" and I was theirs.
This was an OMG moment if there ever was one! O, My God, what has happened here!? Yes, I had expected that becoming a Catholic sister would change a lot but I hadn't quite grasped how an entire religious community could so gracefully move into my heart.
That "everything" included my affections, the way I felt about people, events, things. It's not that other people who were previously important to me were no longer but that how I felt about them was now in relationship with this growing love of my life. And with the nuns, I was learning more and more how they could become part of my affective life -- feelings, desires, emotions, and all that good stuff -- and not just isolated to my faith life. We are, of course, whole persons and our various "parts" -- feelings, thoughts, senses, etc. -- are very much interrelated.
At the heart of the affective life is none other than love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about our central affection: "To love is to will the good of another. All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good. Only the good can be loved." (§1766)
Looking back on that time in my life -- full of goodness even with the challenges, questioning, and growing -- I am grateful for the words of Sister Margaret which gave me a framework for how I was feeling. I knew at least one person knew what I was going through, even it that one person was not me!
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