Walled around with God

Walled around with God Sr Mary David
The Joy of God: Collected Writings

by Sr Mary David with a foreword by Fr Erik Vardan (Bloomsbury, £12.99)

This collection of essays, or rather talks, reveals a very interesting character. The author Sr Mary David had a late vocation. American born she was educated there, attending Loyola University and the University of Virginia, before crossing the Atlantic to attend Christ Church College in Oxford. She then pursued an intense academic career, becoming an associate professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

But then she had a change of course and became a Benedictine nun. She joined the community at Ryde in the ever-lovely Isle of Wight. There for some two decades she was in charge of preparing the novices for their vocations.

This posthumous book consist of the allocutions she gave them. They will have a great interest for many readers, for though there are countless books these days about developing one’s spiritual sensibilities, this one focuses on the preparation for a dedicated life in a most immediate way.


Lay people cannot live quite the same dedicated life, but nevertheless the preparation for a vocation will find many applications among those who would like to more effectively combine their spirituality with the actual everyday work. That after all was the key element in the rule of St Benedict.

Though she happily embraced the life of the convent, finding there as her title suggests ‘the joy of God’, she was also deeply aware of the world and its way beyond.

In talking to her students there she had always in mind the relevance of what she was telling them to the world beyond the cloister.

As a nun she was, as she expressed it in the title of one of her other books, not walled off from the world, but ‘Walled around with God’.