The 2024 GCU Board of Directors Results are now available.

Our Blog

Spiritual February Report

February 22, 2024

Christ is Among Us!

Dear Friends,
The month of February has a great significance for us in the GCU. It was on February 14, 1892, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, that the GCU was officially established with 743 members. From day one the fundamental goals of the GCU have remained the same: “Protecting Families, Promoting Faith and Fraternalism, Strengthening Communities.”

In the life of the Byzantine Catholic Church, February 14th, is also important as we commemorate the repose of Saint Cyril, Equal of the Apostles, and Teacher of the Slavs. We remember the life of St. Cyril and his brother St. Methodius who by a revelation from God, compiled a Slavonic alphabet and translated the Gospel, Epistles, the Psalter and many Service books into the Slavonic language. They introduced Divine Services in Slavonic. Later on in Rome, Saint Cyril soon fell ill from his many labors, and after taking the monastic schema, he died on February 14th in the year 869 at the age of forty-two.

In our American society February 14th is very much enjoyed by Hallmark, numerous florist and candy companies. We all know why, because on this day we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. What we often forget (and not promote) is that this day originated because of the life and martyrdom of St. Valentine who is recognized as the patron saint of love. As a bishop/priest St. Valentine lived in the 3rd century during the time of great persecution. He was sent to jail for performing weddings for couples during a time when new marriages were outlawed in ancient Rome. Before he was killed for refusing to renounce his faith, St. Valentine wrote a last note to a young child to encourage her to stay close to Christ and to thank her for being his friend. He signed the note: “From your Valentine.” That note inspired people to begin writing their own loving messages to people on St. Valentine’s feast day, February 14th, which is celebrated on the same day on which this bishop-priest was martyred.

For many of us, as we will remember the founders of the GCU, St. Cyril, and St. Valentine, it will be the first week of the Great Fast-Lent (for Roman Catholics it will actually be Ash Wednesday). A few days ago, a nice young couple asked me how can they celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, since this year it will be for us a day of fast and abstinence. I thought for a moment and jokingly said “Well, for sure no chocolate roses this year!” But then we enjoyed a deep conversation about the Great Fast-Lent, and realizing that at their core, Lent and St. Valentine’s Day celebrate the same thing: LOVE. Affectionate, passionate, sacrificial love, personified in the life and death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The love of St. Valentine and the love of the Great Fast-Lent is sacrificial, putting the needs of others above your own. This couple that I talked with, decided to share that LOVE with others this year by helping/assisting a charitable organization in our area.

As you read this article, what is your Great Fast-Lent going to be like? What is your St. Valentine’s Day going to be like? And yes, the words Great Fast-Lent and romance typically don’t go together. But as I said before, at its essence, Lent is all about love. It’s about creating more space in our hearts to hear God’s voice. It’s a time for re-kindling devotion to the Lord, so that we ardently say “Yes” to Him more often in our lives. I like to think of the Great Fast-Lent as a season in which I can fall more in love with God. And therefore, this year take to heart the words of St. John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) How can we do this?

It's true that in our churches, you will be hearing a lot about “prayer, fasting, and works of mercy”, and they are and continue to be the three main “ingredients” of the Great Fast-Lent. Even as a child I remember how our house smelled of fish and cabbage during Lent. But in our busy 21st century I wish to encourage you to find silence during the Great Fast-Lent. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Finding silence to touch souls, to touch people’s hearts. Daily we face constant noise and visual distraction—incessant beeps, vibrations, images, and updates—with all this noise around us, it’s hard for us to truly encounter God and the people God has placed in our lives. Fasting from various forms of media can help cultivate more silence in our lives so that we can hear God and SEE the people right around us.

The founders of GCU were able to see the struggles of our people and gathered 132 years ago to establish a fraternal benefit society to assist with love those who were experiencing hardship in their lives. It was love and evangelism that inspired two brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius to leave their home country and to share their passion for the Gospel and to convince their flock of the love of God. St. Valentine, during the times of persecution, was not afraid to teach his people how to recognize and experience true love.

This Great Fast-Lent, in addition to discerning which sweet you will give up and at which soup kitchen you will serve, find some simple ways to love more deeply in daily life. Find that silence to hear God and to see people around you, because the Great Fast-Lent is about LOVE.

Fr. Valerian M. Michlik | GCU Spiritual Advisor

Pictured above is the Altar of St. Valentine in the Basilica of St. Cosmedin, Rome, Italy.

Pictured below is the Icon of Ss. Cyril and Methodius.

Find a GCU Agent

When you talk with a GCU agent, they will work with you to put together a plan that fits your needs.

Find agents withinof