Ordo Amoris means “the order of affections.”
In short: It’s another way of saying “priorities.”
The thing is that the priorities that one has in this life have to be mostly taught.
Children have to be shown that kindness should take a front seat to malice, charity should be prized above greed, and love should be preferred to hate.
One does not start out with an instinct for selflessness and virtue.
But misplaced priorities can easily manifest later in adults too.
A preference for spending and accumulation (instant gratification) over savings and wealth can lead to financial strain and bankruptcy – and a priority of lust, over parental/spousal responsibility can lead to broken families.
Again, this all feels hard to put a finger on without ethics as the unmovable root.
This all tips a hat back toward the necessity of classical education:
So we have returned once more to Lewis and Maritain and Weil and before all of them Augustine: the necessity of seeking the ordo amoris, of training the emotional responses before training the rational ones. But for Eliot this is vital not just for the young, but for all ages; and the instrument distinctively suited to such training is poetry.