Nikos, This is for You

I’m sure this is a first for the blog.  We don’t ask people to come back.   But I’m asking you, “Nikos” from Bulgaria.

Yeah, I get it.  George is George.  He’s not a perfect human being, but let’s face it, he is damn close. 

For example, he drives me crazy when he brings home receipts for everything and I have paper all over the house.  But he gets an A++ rating in every other category, so I’ve learned to live with it.

Niko, can’t you just get over the Trump thing and come back?   Just don’t read the stuff you don’t like.   Do it for me.


P.S. George told me to tell you “Kali Anastasi, Palikari!”


  1. Niko, I certainly second that!
    Well done Gail!

    Nikos is a kali psychoula, a good lovely heart,
    and I certainly miss his posts.
    “Ἀναστάσεως ἡμέρα…
    καί ἀλλήλους περιπτυξώμεθα…”

  2. Solitary Priest says

    I’m sorry, Gail, but I disagree. I don’t care what Nikos thinks about our President. That’s his business. What bothered me about him was that he kept repeating the same things over and over. How many times do we have to hear about dog collars, harmoniums, short beards, or some lady’s bad experience on Pascha in Constantinople? I think George ought to set a limit on how many times the same person can complain about the same thing. After three or four times, we get it.
           There is no pleasing some people. After everyone was moaning and complaining that our bishops were depriving us of the chalice, our bishop gave his blessing for liturgy to be served yesterday and for Holy Week and Pascha to be celebrated. At yesterday’s liturgy, people would not take communion even though every precautionary measure was taken, because some communicants were swallowing from the spoon, instead of opening their mouths wide. What they didn’t realize is that I drink directly from the chalice before anyone else communes. I said in my sermon that I would stake my life and my priesthood that nobody could catch anything from the Holy Mysteries.
          You see what I mean,when I say being in the clergy is a no win situation? You can and you can’t, you will and you won’t. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Yes, Father, but you can skip over his comments if you want to. I, on the other hand, have to read every single word of what is said and frankly, I am so scandalized by what some people write, I just want to cry. People, good people, can be SO ugly and though their comments end up in the trash, I, personally, absorb their impact before they do. It’s like having human excrement thrown on you. You call someone “a dirty waste of space,” as an example, and who reads it? I do. Just me. It’s gotten to the point where George has had to ask me to step away from the blog on occasion.

      And the thing is, these people know what they’re doing and have enough wherewithal and self control to ask, usually the next day, not to post their previous comment which, by that time, has gone in the trash anyway. Sadly, you see this behavior even with the clergy.

      Nikos NEVER does this. I never have to worry about him. He’s just a positive, upbeat kind of guy who also says the truth. What’s not to like?

      With regard to the rest of what you’re saying about your parishioners, are you being critical of the fact that their FAITH is just not strong enough to over come their FEAR? Peter was afraid to get out of the boat and denied the Lord three times. If God can put up with him, surely we can deal with people who are just plain scared in a compassionate way. As far as their complaining about not being able to go to Church, they had every right.

      It is seeing yourself in this “no win” situation that puts you there. Think about it. If you could see yourself as a champion of God, it could all turn around. Because you wear those robes, you have the power to make someone feel very good about themselves for being brave enough to even come to Church. You’ve got that super hero uniform. Coming from a priest, think how the following would make someone feel who was probably very disappointed in themselves for NOT taking communion: “I am so glad to see you in Church. Many don’t have the courage to even be here today. When all this is over, why don’t you make an appointment to come in and see me. We haven’t talked in a while and I’ve missed you. We can have a chat about how this virus has impacted you and your family. Again, thank you for being here for your outstanding example to others.”

      Sometimes when others see us as being (fill in the blank) we actually become (fill in the blank). In this case, if you can help this woman see herself as courageous, it will help her see herself as courageous and she’ll have the resolve to push though her fears as a result.

      Nikos could have told you this. He’s a psychologist. Just saying . . .

      • Solitary Priest says

        First off, I didn’t say it was a woman who didn’t take communion. As it turns out, there was one man and one woman who didn’t step forward. My sermon was given after the Gospel. I said nothing at all to the people who didn’t commune. I was glad to see them in church.
             No, I wouldn’t see myself as a superhero. My goodness, I’ve endangered my salvation enough without the sin of pride. The only difference between me and the faithful is that I call upon the Holy Spirit so that the gifts may become the Body and Blood of Christ.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          You didn’t say anything to them, you talk about them and how this is just another example of how a priest is in a “no win” situation. – But you could have been. You could have BEEN a super hero.

          Father, the people in your parish have all the demons you struggle with and then some. They need you; not just the cuffs you wear.

          • Solitary Priest says

            I think it best that I leave. I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone’s Holy Week and Pascha. All the best.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I hope you don’t. I have more to say to you. You are ALSO our family.

              No, you didn’t say there was a woman who didn’t take communion and no you didn’t say anything to anyone in your parish. The woman was an example I introduced. Could have been a man. In this case, it was apparently both.

              Fortunately, the way you see yourself is irrelevant, as God gets to choose his superheroes and He chose YOU. People need more from you than your cuffs, Father. The next time you’re in a “no win” situation, put that whole idea completely out of your head, as “no win” does not apply to God. Just ask God to help you. Be willing to go outside your comfort zone. Ask Him, “What can I do about XYZ to make it better?” Then wait. Don’t think about it. When you hear something from Him, just do it. (I know you know God’s voice, because I’ve seen evidence of it here.) You’ll be surprised the peace that it will give you and I promise you there will be fruit, whether God allows you to see it or not.

              You’re discouraged. I get it. So am I. But we are both still sitting here. It’s not like we can fall off the “I’m discouraged cliff” and end it all. Might as well entertain being God’s superhero, Father. It’s more exciting than anything I have planned. God will do all the work.

              God will answer my prayers, Father. I know He will because I am praying for His will. You are His priest. It is His will that you be all that it implies. I am praying right now that He lets you see how He can work through you. It WILL happen. I would be most humbled and honored if you would share it with us here, as we all need the encouragement. I have never been so depressed. Good grief! We’re in the middle of a plague.

              Now go put on your cassock and do your superhero thing.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Fr, you would be wise to listen to la Sheppard. Real Christian women need real Christian men and all real Christians need real Christian priests.

    • Solitary Priest,
      I am sorry, but I disagree with your disagreement.
      “What bothered me about him was that he kept repeating the same things over and over”. 
      That did not bother me because:
      (1) he isn’t the only one
      (2) I kind of agreed with the message in his repetitions, but I can imagine you did not. 

  3. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Why?  🙂 
    What’s the big deal about Niko?  Hm, hm, hm? Why do you want HIM to come back so badly?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Many reasons. First of all, he was 100% nice all the time. He could always find a way to make his point without making it about the person. Secondly, he really read all the comments and knew the people here. Thirdly, he’d let the things others said about him roll off his back and bring the conversation back to the issue. – There are just some people you feel like you get to know over the years that are more like family. George and I both feel like that about him.

      • Estonian Slovak says

        Um, I don’t consider writing in all caps and using British vulgarisms to be 100% nice behavior. I never attacked the man personally(I don’t think). I just question why he had to repeat the same thing over ad nauseum. I would say the same to others who dwell on the same subject. If I’m guilty of that also, I’m sorry. Maybe Nikos, like myself, felt some of the things posted here to be a source of temptation.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Rhonda, Gail speaks truly. I liked the guy (then again, I like a lot of the guys and gals on this blog, like you), but I really appreciated his Bulgarian context. While I thought the anti-Trump thing was over the top he had an Orthodox phronema.

        As y’all know, Gail is my wife, my muse and a whole lot more. She’s also the Editor and I almost always defer to her in matters regarding content, comment and commentators. She’s got that feminine intuition thing going on if you know what I mean and more often than not, she’s right on the money. (She also knows how to smoke out a rat.)

        Anyway, Niko was one of those guys without guile.

        • Chronia Polla George and Gail! Many years in Holy Bliss, and Kalo Pascha to all on the blog. With your new partner George is it really Monomakhos anymore? How about poli-agapos! LOL!!!
          Dont know what the fuss is with Niko, he is ok. Maybe he needed a break. But I really miss me some M. Stankovich, hope he well. I learned a lot from that fellow, most times the hard way.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Well, YOU just made my day!!!! You must have known we were thinking of you.

            Haven’t heard anything from M. Stankovich. It seems he was increasingly uncomfortable with my role on the blog, and well, George picked me. Go figure.

            George was never fighting alone. Not really. He has all of you.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Kali Anastasi, Dino!

            • Gail, 
              Happy to put a smile on your face, during these stressful days. The Spirit works in strange ways!? Strange also is that we think we know people, yet really don’t. For example, I always assumed George was married all this time, and then I read he is NOW your husband! Then again, I’m discovering new things about myself  during this crisis.
              Anyway, thanks for thinking of me, you and George please keep me in your prayers. I always get an extra candle for those on this blog,past and current.(at least when we used to go to Church) Shame on me, but this virus bullshit, has mentally and spiritually made me stray, even during Great Lent.
              Maybe my deep seeded DNA and/or spiritual historical roots are haunting me, but the unknown makes me nervous, especially how quick it all goes down, and that we all lay down like sheep to the slaughter.(I always remember my grandma telling me, it all happened in the blink of an eye, when describing the burning of Smyrna) Our world has changed overnight, we seem helpless to it, and our spiritual leaders only give lip service, and all fall in line with the secular powers that be. Seems I’ve heard this play out before. Seems nothing really changes in the end, only the names, and methods. 

              My faith is not as strong as I believed it to be. Hopefully not, but if the shit really hits the fan, I pray, I will awaken to Him, and do His Will.

              All the best George.

              Lord have Mercy on us.

              “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”(2 Corinthians 5:7)

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Yeah, I’m sorry, too. Totally misunderstood. Should have known better. To make it up to you, I posted something just for you. I can barely spell my new last name (seriously a challenge for me) but I think Kali Anastasi means Happy Easter. Episeis!

              • George Michalopulos says

                Dino, we are praying for you.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I always enjoyed his posts, myself.

    • Rhonda,
      I’d like to hear from Nikos because he lives in Bulgaria, one of the few places  where the churches are still open.  Thus, I’d like to hear what he has to say.

    • Ronda,
      This is not necessarily about Nikos only.
      It may happen again about some one of you too.
      BTW if you look back in your life or that other members of your family, you may have had a similar case of a friend who left because of politically different opinion, or perhaps misunderstanding….
      Just saying… 

  4. This was a beautiful segment on 60 minutes last night. Some non Orthodox colleagues from work watched it and were mesmerized by the Services .

    • StephenD, I saw that segment on 60 Minutes and thought that it was nice, too. I also had some non-Orthodox friends reach out to me about the beauty of the services, churches and vestments, etc. One also remarked how nice it was that a ‘mistake’ was corrected and $3.5 million dollars put back in its rightful place. I just replied that he was correct, and left it at that. (I really didn’t have the heart to tell him that much more money than $3.5 million is/was missing from the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine project.)

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I think that was wise of you, Alex. It’s bad enough that we have to know what happened.

        I just listened to the segment. No one forgets to allow room for a cross on the top of a church! If you look at this picture, they had no intention of putting a cross there, unless you count that witchcraft symbol. – The cross they are proposing now is SO small, the building dwarfs it.

        Model with circle/cross on top:

        Witchcraft symbol:

        • George Michalopulos says

          Indeed.  I know there’s a tin-foil conspiracy theory out there that goes like this:  eventually, the Moslems will take it over because they got the money.  Or it could be turned into a syncretistic shrine which combines all major religions.  
          I’m not saying this but this is what is bubbling beneath the surface.

        • Well Gail, whatever the case, its got to be the most expensive Orthodox church ever built in North America. I’m even willing to bet that it’s going to be one of the most expensive Orthodox churches ever built. (And, that includes the almost exact replica of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow that was put up some years ago.)

          • Gail Sheppard says

            When you find someone to take that bet, count me in (on your side).

          • Highly doubtful, if I recall correctly, Christ the Savior at that time was around the equivalent of $300 million. Having been there myself, I have to say they clearly spent it.  Even the backstairs have ornate, gilded decoration!

        • “No one forgets to allow room for a cross on the top of a church!”
          I can believe anything of architects. Many years ago a shiny new nine-story library was built at Glasgow University. Everything was splendid until they put the books in (a lot of books – Glasgow University has been collecting them for centuries) when the library began to move. Sooner or later it would have slid down the hill in a heap, so they acted fast. They removed the books, built a six-storey extension beside the tower, and split the books between the two. It turns out that the architects and/or the construction company had forgotten to include the weight of the books in the load that the foundations would have to support. Now, books are heavy. After all, what is a book? It is a piece of wood with all the air squeezed out.
          As for Spanish architects? One of those designed the new Scottish Parliament building, with beautiful hardwood door and window frames and bare concrete walls inside. I imagine it would be a wonderful design for a building in an Andalusian or North African desert. But not for Scotland. Scotland is damp and wet, so much so that they had to run dehumidifiers 24 hours a day – which sucked the moisture out of the door and window frames so that they warped.
          Architects? Hah!

          • George Michalopulos says

            And yet, none of these monstrosities would have been built (much less conceived) by architects working in the Middle Ages. Those building still stand, I tell you! I’ve been to more than a few.

            So much for “progress”.

        • Just a note of interest, Gail. The whole cross-on-the-dome thing reminded me about a news story from some years back. Apparently, when Frank Lloyd Wright designed the famous Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church located in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, he left off the dome cross on his finalized blueprints. So, there was no cross installed initially. (This was on the premise that the church already had the shape of a cross designed into its exterior layout.)
          Much, much later, perhaps about 10-15 years ago, the parishioners decided that they wanted to add a cross when the dome was undergoing needed restoration work. There was quite an uproar from the Frank Lloyd Wright groupies (and other architectural aficionados) about spoiling his original vision. At the time, I lived not far from Milwaukee, so I remember the newspaper articles and tv coverage. There was even talk about the whole thing not happening because the church was a historical landmark, and changing its appearance would have been a no-no. But in the end though, the parishioners won out and a nice looking cross was installed. (Glory be to God!) Of course, if anyone out there remembers the whole incident more vividly than I do, please let me know.

  5. Sage-Girl says

    Gail, how magnanimous a gesture ? ?—
    Niko should chill + come back …
    all I know is emotions are running high during this unprecedented Plague – we’ve got to keep the faith + hold on during Apocalypse !?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Sage-Girl, emotions are indeed “running high” during this plague. I think that if they don’t open up the country pretty darn quick, things are going to boil over.

  6. To those on this blog afflicted with the GOA/St.Nicholas Shrine Derangement Syndrome, please know that I for one admire what I saw at Ground Zero on a  recent visit to NYC. Yes, I really do. When completed, the church, in the context of everything at the site, will be an architectural marvel and one, which we, as Orthodox Christians will one day be proud of and happy to say is our own.  A person has only to visit the complex to realize that a traditional Orthodox  Church of cookie cutter Greek/American design would not have been appropriate or in harmony with all else that is there. Yes, the money spent and perhaps even squandered in its creation is an abomination and boggles the mind. It should never have happened, but sadly it did. That was then but this is now.  In my view Calatrava’s creation is inspired and befitting the world in which we live and pray today.  When completed the exterior of the building will likely speak more to persons of other Faiths. But the interior, with icons and frescoes created by the monks on Mt. Athos will be ours to reverence and to allow us to say the journey to completion, although bumpy, was worthwhile.

    • Michael Bauman says

      If the official GOA showed any desire to establish the Orthodox Church here for the people of this land, all of us, then I might be more charitable.  As it is since I am an uncouth barbarian, it does not matter 
      Yes, I am well aware that there are God filled priests in the GOA but that makes it even more of a tragedy for all of us, Greeks and non-Greeks alike. 

    • J-RO,
      “When completed the exterior of the building will likely speak more to persons of other Faiths. But the interior, with icons and frescoes….”

      The exterior will be seen by EVERYBODY who passes by.
      The icons inside will be  seen by the FEW ONLY,  who do enter the church (when the Church is open). 

      The RC Calatrava was not interested in showing something really Orthodox to the millions of passers-by, but did Bartholomew and Demetrios agree too?

      Is this a new (ecumenistic) trend in Orthodox church buildings? ?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        The cross in a 2018 photo is the SAME cross in the 60 Minutes segment, which means they didn’t mistakenly run out of room. At some point, they dumped the cross and now are adding it back again, probably due to complaints from the Faithful.

        You see, there is a real disconnect here with respect to what this thing is supposed to be. That it is to make money is a given; the one thing everyone agrees on, as it’s the only place a visitor can go to reflect on the horror of what happened on 9/11.

        The disconnect is between the Port Authority and the Church.

        The Port Authority probably wants to downplay the “church” aspect, as it is supposed to be interdenominational, which would include those who believe in God, those who believe in nothing and those who believe everything in between.

        To the Faithful, it’s about the Orthodox Church.

        To the leadership of the GOA, it is probably about the recovery of the money.

        In Wikipedia, it says, “The church is being developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.” The GOA isn’t even mentioned.

        However, the official website says two things, (1) “This church will be a Greek Orthodox National Shrine on Hallowed, Sacred Ground. . . (2) The inclusivity of the bereavement space within the structure that houses a particular house of worship signals the American democratic and religious ideal that the practice of one’s own beliefs in no way hinders the beliefs of another. In fact, quite the opposite, it welcomes the belief of another. Thus the bereavement space is non-denominational and truly interfaith.”

        So what is it, exactly? God only knows but this was such a mess from the beginning it’s hard to imagine, especially with this plague, finishing by 2021.

        2018 New York Post Article:
        60 Minutes Segment: tinycc/bwg1mz
        Official Website:

      • Greatly Saddened says

        I wonder whether they will be having an annual Hellenic/Greek Festival.

  7. Sage-Girl says

    … it IS tragic indeed too much money has been spent to rebuild St. Nicholas Shrine + this has embarrassed Archdiocese to no end; let’s pray in the end, it was all worth it. ?
    But something tells me it’ll be a very long time before crowds gather or fly out to see this ground zero shrine + buy from its gift shop icons, candles, etc., like at St. Pat’s Cathedral. 

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Architecture “relevant” to the modern world is just as bad as theology “relevant” to the modern world. Indeed our architecture has always been a piece of our theology.  Something I have always pointed out in the tours I gave of my home parish.  Which, BTW, cannot be mistaken for anything else but what it is: a holy Othodox Christian Temple.  It cost a lot less too.  A LOT LESS.  
    At the time of it’s construction we had men on our Parish Council who, I am told, would not let loose of a dollar until the eagle there on screamed.
    Still got done on time and a contractor involved in the construction remarked that we got a 5 million dollar building for about 2 million.  Free and clear BTW at the time and even with expansion of the education wing and other updates, it remains that way.  

  9. I don’t recall any sustained bashing of the contemporary box-like fortress design of the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris, the exterior of which belies anything “Orthodox” save for several onion-shaped domes.  Gifted by Vladimir Putin , consecrated in 2016 by Patriarch Kirill, and nestled near the Eiffel Tower, the basilica, with its tradition interior, has become  a must-see site for persons of all Faiths.  The same will be said one day of the St. Nicholas Shrine, and critics admit that a church is where the people are.  

  10. Misha,
    I agree.  Once inside, I felt at home. May the same be said at Ground Zero.