FGG-184 A Shame Too Great

May 24, 2018

This past month, I began my 13th year in jail ministry. We have seen many changes over these past 12 years. The single biggest change is the number of inmates addicted to heroin. A large percentage of people our ministry team sees on weekly basis have a substance abuse disorder.

What are the reasons many don’t seek treatment? Why does arrest and incarceration have to happen before treatment begins?  In this podcast Tony discusses the shame of addiction.

 Scripture: “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” — 1 Corinthians 10:13

Reflections: What can we do to help the addicted deal with shame?  Do you understand that addiction is an illness? How can we show compassion for the addicted?


FGG-183 Serving with Compassion

May 17, 2018

When we hear of someone who is suffering, we feel sorry for them; we have feelings of pity and empathy. If someone loses a loved one, a job, has an incurable illness or accident, we feel these emotions. But, are these emotions compassion or something else? In this podcast Tony discusses compassion.

Scripture“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  — Colossians 3:12 (NAB)

“[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” — Ephesians 4:32 (NAB)

Reflections: Are you a compassionate person?  What can we do to become more compassionate people? What role does gratitude and kindness play in compassion?  Are you compassionate to yourself?


FGG-182 Living in a Connected World

May 10, 2018
We are living in a connected world.  Smart phones have put instant communications in the hands of everyone. We read articles about the connected car, home and workplace. It seems the world is a text message or tweet away. In this podcast Tony discusses being a Christian in a connected world.
Scripture: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”  –1Thessalonians 5:16-18
Reflections: How do you keep God in your day-to-day life? Do you have a time each day when you unplug from your smart phone and computer? Have you downloaded any apps to keep God in your day?

FGG-181 Hey, Whaddaya Gonna Do?

May 10, 2018

Whenever something bad would happen to a friend or family member, a death in the family, the loss of a job, divorce or health issues, old Sicilian men would ponder for a long moment, look the friend straight in the eyes and say, “Hey, whaddaya gonna do?” In this podcast Tony discusses find the right things to say.

Scripture: Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.  Matthew 6: 27, 34

Reflections:  Are you ever at a loss for what to say at a funeral? Are you fearful you might say the wrong thing? How uncomfortable are you in these situations?


FGG-180 Well Known or Worth Knowing

April 27, 2018

We live in a time of instant stardom and notoriety.  People go from relative obscurity to fame overnight.  Whether it’s American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, a cable reality show, or an Instagram post that goes viral, someone is only a heartbeat away from being well known. In this podcast Tony asks, Well Known or Worth Knowing?

Quotes: “Worry not that no one knows of you; seek to be worth knowing.” –Confucius

“Seek To Be Worth Knowing Rather Than Be Well Known” – Anonym

Scripture: “He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  –Matthew 22:37

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” –Colossians 3:12

For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.” –Romans 1:17

Reflections: What is the difference between well-known and worth knowing? Which do you strive for? Why do you think that popularity has become the goal and not being a better person? 


FGG-179 Quit Your Complaining!

April 19, 2018

“If you are not grateful for the things you have, what makes you think you will be grateful for the things you want.”  –Tony Agnesi

Every March, Diane and I are blessed to spend the month in sunny Naples, Florida. We love the nearby Vanderbilt Beach and walk the beach every morning for an hour and a half.  We are so grateful to share this time together. Every year, I comment on how I missed my life’s calling as a beach bum!

Naples is an upscale city and most of the people here are retired successful folks from other parts of the country and seasonal vacationers.  I love everything about the area except for one thing. In the 20 plus years we have been coming here I can’t believe is how unfriendly everyone is.

You would think that with the beautiful sunshine and near perfect sunny days everyone would be in a grateful, cheerful mood.  But, that doesn’t seem to be the case. People here are always complaining about something. Somewhere along the way being grateful for your blessings has disappeared.


“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” –Colossians 3:17


And, what do they complain about? Here is sample of what I overheard in just one day.

A wealthy woman complained that her smart phone battery wasn’t lasting as long as it should. She blamed the sales clerk at the phone store.

A man complained that he had his drink flag up at the Ritz Carlton for over five minutes before the waiter arrived.  He wanted his drink for free.

A woman at the coffee shop complained that the foam heart on her cappuccino was misshapen and wanted it replaced.

A young girl arrived at Dunkin’ Donuts in her daddy’s Tesla and ordered a jelly doughnut with the jelly on the side and was disturbed that they couldn’t fulfill her request. She reluctantly took the regular jelly doughnut (with the jelly inside) and paid for it with Apple Pay on her iPhone 10.

An elderly woman complained that there would be a 30 minute wait to be seated in a popular restaurant.  Her husband offered, “What else do you have to wait for besides death!”  I liked him!

As I walked the beach, I smile and say good morning to everyone I passed.  Of the many people I recently greeted one morning only one responded with a good morning reply.  Most ignored me, turned their heads away or even worse, looked at me in disgust.

My point is that, even in arguably the sunniest, prettiest city on the gulf coast, people can’t even say good morning. And for some reason they are ALWAYS finding something to complain about.

Gratitude and humility just doesn’t seem to exist!


“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” –2 Corinthians 9:15


I was almost ready to give up on humanity when I had an encounter with a migrant worker.

His skin was dark and stained from too much sun exposure. His hands were chapped and cut. His clothes dirty from the fields.

As we made eye contact, I smiled and said “Hello.”

“Hello,” He quickly responded.

“How are you?” was my automatic response.

He paused for a moment, raised his hands toward heaven, tipped back his head and rolled his eyes skyward, and didn’t say a thing; not a single word. Without speaking, he spoke volumes!

Without saying a word I heard;

Thank you God for my life.

Thank you God for being able to support my family.

Thank you for all the blessings you have given me.

Without speaking, he restored my faith in humanity. This man understands that all that we have is a gift from God and gratitude and humility lead to happiness.

Quite a contrast, right? So I ask you, who is happier?


FGG-178 Who are the Lepers of Today?

April 13, 2018

There is an often told story of St. Francis of Assisi and an encounter with a leper.  I’ve seen many different versions.  The stories might be different but the life lesson is the same. So, who are the lepers of today?  Who are the voiceless, ignored and forgotten among us?  Who does society reject? And, more importantly, what should we as Christians do about it? In this podcast Tony discusses the Lepers of today.

Quotes: “The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers.  And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them.  And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body.” –St Francis of Assisi in his Testament

“Among all the awful miseries of this world Francis had a natural horror of lepers, and one day as he was riding his horse near Assisi he met a leper on the road.  He felt terrified and revolted, but not wanting to transgress God’s command and break the sacrament of His word, he dismounted from his horse and ran to kiss him.  As the leper stretched out his hand, expecting something, he received both money and a kiss.  Francis immediately mounted his horse and although the field was wide open, without any obstructions, when he looked around he could not see the leper anywhere.” — Thomas of Selano wrote in his biography of Francis Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul

Reflections: Do you feel that the homeless, handicapped, unborn and incarcerated are the lepers of today?  What can we do to recognize them as God’s children?  Are you ever guilty of shunning these people?


FGG-177 Scars, We All Have Them

April 8, 2018

As I was shaving in front of the bathroom mirror, I couldn’t help but notice the huge scar on my stomach.  It reminded me that it has been 12 years since I had surgery for colon cancer.  Two feet of colon removed and cancer free for over a decade and the ugly scar to prove it. In this podcast Tony discusses our scars.

QuotesOther times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.” ― Cheryl Rainfield

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ― Kahlil Gibran

“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?” –Fulton J. Sheen

Reflections: What are your scars?  Have you become stronger when you embraced your scars? Have your personal scars made you more compassionate to others?


Save It for Easter

March 27, 2018

As a youngster, I remember on my birthday every year (in February, during or near lent), I would always receive some article of clothing as a gift. Whether it was a sweater, a new shirt, pair of pants or a jacket, as I opened the gift, my mother would say, “Save it for Easter!”  In this podcast, Tony discusses the importance of Easter.

Scripture: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching, empty, too, your faith.  …And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:13-14 17

Reflections:  Is Easter just another Sunday to you and your family?  What have you done to make Easter a special day?  Have you explained to your kids the real meaning of Easter?


FGG-120 The Power of Hope

March 22, 2018

Faith, Hope and Love are the three theological virtues by which we participate in the divine nature of God. But hope is the least understood of these virtues.  Hope is often confused with optimism, of an attitude that things will turn out for the best. Hope is not the result of positive thinking, expecting a good outcome, or denying the reality of a situation.  In this podcast, Tony discusses hope.

Catechism: Into everyone’s heart, God has placed a search for happiness. Hope responds to this desire. It sustains man, frees him from discouragement, preserves him from selfishness, and leads to happiness on earth and in heaven. –CCC 1818

Scripture: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” –Romans 15:13

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-12

Quote: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reflections: Do you understand the difference between optimism and hope? How do we stay positive and still hope for God’s will?  What does it mean to have our hope in God’s promise?