During the liturgy of the Good Friday, there is a time when all those present are invited to near the altar and reverence the crucifix with a kiss, touch or genuflection. This can be an emotional part of the liturgy as the faithful are brought to the foot of the cross and to feel the sorrow of Good Friday.
To highlight the sorrowful atmosphere, the Church provides an optional hymn that can be sung during the adoration of the Holy Cross. Traditionally, it’s called the “Reproaches” (Improperia in Latin) and it presents Jesus’ sorrow on the cross.
Some of the verses, of which are partly drawn from the words of Old Testament prophets, recalls the various events in the history of salvation when God saved his chosen people and questioned them, asking why they had turned away from him.
It also calls to mind the reality that our sins are the cause of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Here is a sample of the many questions Jesus asks the crowd in the Reproaches.
My people, in which way hakitve I offended you?
or how have I grieved you?
Because I took you out of the land of Egypt,
you have prepared a cross for your Messiah.
What more should I have done for you and that I have not done?
Truly, I planted you as my most beautiful chosen vine
and you have turned very sorrowful for me,
for when I am thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink
and with a spear, you pierced your Savior’s side.
I brought you up with great power,
and you hung me on the scaffold of the cross.
This ancient hymn reflects the somber mood of the day and is meant to provide a fitting meditation as each individual walks up the aisle of the church to kiss the wounds of Christ on the cross.
This act points the soul inward and forces us to reflect on our own failings.
Finally, it reminds us how every sin we commit hurts our beloved Lord and increases his pain on the cross. This is a call to conversion, asking us to turn away from our sinful habits and to embrace the good that God wants to accomplish in our lives.