There is a phrase in the morning prayer which says "We thank the Lord for enabling us to serve Him". As I listen to these words spoken by a priest in the primary part of Mass, I always feel deep contentment and gratefulness.
I visited a Roman Catholic church for the first time in my life forty years ago, with the purpose of studying English. When I met the priest, an English teacher, I was so impressed by his simple clothes and his modesty that I felt no hesitation in changing the subject from English to catechism． After that, I started to go to church regularly.
Since then, I have attended Mass twice every Sunday and weekdays, never missing a single day. I always stopped by the church on my way home to greet Jesus (a statue of Jesus) in the chapel even if I was late because of working over time. When the chapel was closed for a day, I peeped through the key hole and saw the red light of Eucharist (the holy body) which made me feel simply happy.
In the meantime, I stopped perming my hair and instead, I started to part my naturally straight hair in the middle. My co-workers in the office were surprised and asked me if I was trying to look like Jesus. Although, my mother was seriously worried about me at the time, now, I can reflect upon it with a smile. I realize, how fascinated I was even then by Jesus.
One day, I saw a notice on the bulletin board at the church about a retreat at a convent in Fukuoka city. Instantly, I made a decision to participate in the three-day retreat without any prior knowledge of it. In fact, the only things required were a fee of five hundred yen and five cups of rice.
Meanwhile, I was very fortunate to be guided by a wise sister who suggested that I attended morning Mass daily to make sure I did not rush into a conclusion of joining a convent as I dearly wanted to do so. For several months, with full of passion, I woke up at daybreak everyday to go to church and attend Mass until the day I jointed the convent.
As I think back on the long years passed, I can not help feeling grateful for the Lord's mercy and patience. My father's final message to me was "Be faithful".
We have many sisters here devoted to Jesus from youth onward.
Translated into English by Chieko Sekine from the original Japanese text written by Sr. Teraji