CHANGING HABITS: A Memoir of the Society of the Sacred Heart by V.V. Harrison

CHANGING HABITS: A Memoir of the Society of the Sacred Heart

Email this review


For most of its nearly 200 years, the Society of the Sacred Heart represented the best of the ""old"" Catholicism. The cloistered teaching order of cultured, highly educated nuns provided upper-class Catholics--such as the Kennedy, Ford, and Buckley women--with high intellectual standards and rigorous moral training. Now, in a mix of memoir, history, and sociology, a former student assesses what has been lost and gained in the 20 years of drastic change since Vatican II. While Harrison's recollections of the trials and joys of her own Sacred Heart school days are the weakest part of the book, they do provide a portrait of the ""Mothers"" as experienced from the outside. The dignified nuns were a powerful symbol of grace and unity to their students, ""tangible evidence of the Word made flesh,"" and Harrison's extensive history of the order's development instills in the reader a respect for the values and traditions it engendered in the members of the society and in those whose lives they touched, But all this is peripheral to the central drama of the book: the struggle of the modern sisters as they live through the loss of cloister, habit, and rule. In interviews with former and current teachers and students, Harrison captures the chaotic and painful period of the 60's and 70's, as well as the evolving sense of the new and even greater demands incumbent on the religious today. A moving and disturbing story--one that reaches beyond the fate of a single order to question the future of all Catholic vocations.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1988
Publisher: Doubleday