Now place the nail, my lovely lad
        and grip your hammer low;
Now raise it high above your head,
        and firmly strike your blow.
Once more raise up your arm again
        once more hit hard your steel,
But mind your hand, let not the weight
        your gentle fingers feel.

Well struck, my boy! Right manfully
        this humble task’s begun.
How soon you might perform the deeds
        in town till now I’ve done,
And guard your mother faithfully
        as Love demands of you.
Know well our Father high in Heav’n
        smiles at the good we do.

“Dear father Joseph teach me well
        the manly virtues all
For I am young, though I am He
        who answers Israel’s call,
For far too soon your holy soul
        will by that portal lie,
But I will lead you in with Joy
        once I am lifted high.

Meanwhile your bride, my Mother dear,
        I humbly shall obey;
Defend her honor, keep her safe
        until that blessed day
When I will bear upon myself
        that Sign of Love Divine
Then to my Father’s house return
        for her soul and with thine.”

True to the Son’s dear words there passed
        the years to that day sad
When Jesus with his Mother mild
        laid down to rest His dad.
Then hurried on the lengths of days
        till one day brought a Tree
Which this one man, the woodman’s Son
        bore up to Calvary.

You place the nail, oh soldier strong,
        you do not shy away.
You raise your hammer for the blow,
        forgetting judgment day.
“As through my Hands the dreadful steel
        red fonts of Life make flow
While by my rended flesh and bone
        God Mercy doth bestow

You strike the nail and think on me
        Whom for your sins you pierce
And let the waters of my heart
        quench sinner’s hatred fierce.
As blow by blow your task begun
        you fatefully see through,
Know well my ‘Abba, forgive them’
        I cry even for you.

Oh Father God, mind well the wounds
        these crimson jewels I bear
For by these bloodied stars of mine
        and by this sacred tear
Which bares my heart unto the world
        I give you back my Bride
Who now by this life-giving act
        stands ever by my side.”

*  *  *  *  *

Look then with mercy Lord on me
        as little nails I place
Upon your hands and by my acts
        deny your gift of grace.
Accept my penance for these faults
        as your dear self I pierce,
And think not thou upon the guilt
        but just on Mary’s tears.

Place not the nails, oh thou my soul,
        nor drive the spear’s edge through
For Love of Him whose mercy saves
        as He shows Love for you.
How many times in spite of Him
        you throw Him, Love, away
As by your sins your self you wound
        with nail marks day by day.

And yet what mercy still He shows
        to take this blow for thee
Despite your cruél strikes of sin
        to nail Him to the Tree.
Turn then, again, think not of pride,
        but rather shame for guilt
That in the Love of that Same Son
        Who for us mansions built

You may rejoice eternally
        in Joy of Mercy’s eyes.
When on your precious mortal frame
        your final sun doth rise,
May Mary, Joseph, and their Son
        be standing by your side
That in the Father’s loving arms
        you ever may abide.

Image: Gerard David, Christ Nailed to the Cross.

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Br. Joseph Graziano, O.P.

Written by:

Br. Joseph Bernard Marie Graziano, the eldest of three children, was born and raised in the state of New Hampshire. He received his BA in philosophy and theology from Providence College in 2014 and joined the Order immediately after graduating. On