Against the Grain is an unapologetic tale of twenty-one saints from twenty-one centuries focused on twenty-one virtues. To add texture and depth, each century is set in its historical context and highlights a heroic virtue associated with a particular saint. For our church, nation and culture to improve, there must be an increase in virtue.
Are you ready? The only reason we exist in this life is to be a saint
and merit heaven for all eternity in the next.
Against the Grain is a book about friendship: the friendship of the Saints with God, the friendship of the Saints with each other, and with us.
Against the Grain is a love story. A heroic love story. Love of God, church, country and family. The whole book, and our spiritual life, can be summed up in two words- “Love God.”
Pope Saint Pius V said, “All the evil in the world is due to lukewarm Catholics.” No more being insipid, or lukewarm. Time to turn up the heat and truly live. This is not a time for defeatist Catholicism or part-time saints. This is a time for gutsy saints. Live as a true, courageous, and heroic Catholic to one day be among the elect. Contend. Matter. Go Against The Grain.
Against the Grain is for culture-warrior, patriotic, serious, faithful Catholics, and people of all faiths interested in the Catholic story. If you have been conditioned to go with the flow of our immoral culture, this book is not for you. If you live as a sign of contradiction amidst our coarsening culture, and are looking to live a life of greater virtue, perhaps even heroic virtue, be fortified with Against the Grain.
Picture: Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio (“The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple”), a fresco by Fra Angelico (1450) from the National Museum of San Marco, Florence.
Simeon blesses Joseph and Mary in Luke 2:34 saying Jesus is “signum cui contradicetur,” a “sign of contradiction” in the world. When we imitate Jesus as a “sign of contradiction” we go “against the grain.”
Christianity is under assault like never before. Confusion and malformation reign. As one wades through the moral miasma, they find the Catholic church dominated by progressive, modernist agendas whose largest audience are cultural Catholics, or Catholics-in-name-only (CINO’s). Traditionalist Catholics are resolute and ascendant, but numbers are few. Against the Grain will edify those virtuous souls who choose to fight for their faith and for their Catholic heritage.
Faithful Catholics are tired of weak leadership, compromising values, clown masses, effeminate, self-absorbed priests, scandal and heresy, communion for pro-abortion politicians, etc. We have had enough. Time to stop the crazy train. People who believe in the traditional church and not some social justice avatar church that hijacked the one, true faith are done with the sideways and upside down spiritual rubbish show. It’s time to stop being embarrassed about our church. It’s time to tap into the church that the saints from past centuries attended, protected and defended. Time to get going. Let’s move out.
Some readers may have heard Europeans dismissively declare, “America is such a young country.” True, by European standards. But what about our Catholic faith? We go back 2,000 years, and earlier. Thus, the historical element is central to this readable, enjoyable tome to inform. All Catholics should know about the Christian martyrs in the Colosseum, the Edict of Milan, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Counter-Reformation, the Vendéens and the Christeros. Do they?
This story isn’t just about our Catholic forefathers. It’s about each Catholic’s personal quest to find the courage to be truly faithful in a world where Catholicism is often unwelcome.
Against the Grain seeks to influence all to live as saints. Recognizing that influencing human nature is often a challenge, the discussion of saints, virtue, Catholic and world history, current church, political and cultural events, is done so referencing personal stories from Doug as well as pictures, music and movies that permit the reader to better connect with the subject matter. As such Grane’s writing style disregards much of the conventional wisdom expected in a book such as this and instead marches to the beat of its own drum. Against the Grain asks the reader “why not me?” as he or she pursues holiness, and, hopefully, heaven.
Against The Grain is a summons to heroic virtue, to sainthood, for everyone. The format was designed to disarm the reader into a gentle consideration of the virtues and their own potential sainthood. It seeks to have individuals change their status. From non-active to active. From lukewarm, comfortable Catholic to an engaged, at times uncomfortable, Catholic. A holy Catholic. From one who lives a life of supernatural virtue to one of heroic virtue. From one who takes the thorny path that leads to glory. What change in status do you seek?
In looking to write an important book, one that enables meaningful change, Against the Grain focuses on the smallest viable audience rather than one written for mass appeal.
Against the Grain is about people, a tribe who shares a certain type of forward motion, and who share a certain psychographic:
Parents have been trying to lead their children to live virtuous lives since Adam and Eve. Ancient philosophers like Aristotle wrote books such as The Nicomachean Ethics as a roadmap for his own son to develop virtue. This book is dedicated to my children. It is but one small step to help me answer the essential question, have I done everything to get my children to heaven?
Wake up! You don’t belong. Stop pretending that you do. You are different. You are a Catholic. Say “no” to the crowd. Say “no” to the great reset. Jesus Christ was/is the greatest reset. To say “yes” to Christ is to say “yes” to true freedom, and eternal salvation.
Faithful Catholics know they are not meant for this world. Model your life after Christ and be a sign of contradiction in your family, community, church, and nation. Be a non-conformist. Be a saint. Be a saint-maker. Go Against The Grain.
Yes, “Why Not Me?” We look at saints in particular circumstances and speculate that they may have seen a particular situation or perhaps heard a particular call from God and asked themselves, “why not me?”; why can’t I respond to that situation or that call from God with heroic sanctity? Anyone can if they choose to fully cooperate with the graces that heaven has given them.
Are you engrained to perpetuate the status quo? Or are you wired to be a sign of contradiction?
Against The Grain goes against the flow. It goes against consensus. Turn your hearts and minds from the distractions of the Earth, and direct them towards the spiritual life. Stay the course, and don’t ever give up.
History is filled with people who just said “no.” Tell others, “I’m not going along with that. I’m not going along with the lie.” Tell the truth. Tell people “you’re not alone.” Step up a bit, and repeat and soon you will be living a life of greater virtue, perhaps even heroic virtue. Seek out other heroic people. Religions are the longest lasting marketers in the history of mankind.
Many souls live in outright defiance and open revolt to the holy precepts, and God’s will. Some reach a moment where that is no longer tenable and turn to God in resigned subjugation. They turn, or return, to first principles. For Catholics the first principles are the supernatural virtues. Have moral confidence in looking towards your Catholic faith.
There are so many Catholics out there who wish our Bishops would lead, that America’s culture would stop going in decline, that their kids will have as good a shot at a good life as they had growing up. Stop cursing others inaction and waiting for others to step up. Maybe, the calvary is you.
Eric Sammons, editor of Crisis magazine, said, “I won't say it's the worst time in Church history, but it is unique. We have elements of the 1st cent. (pagan society), 4th cent. (rampant internal heresy), 14th cent. (problematic papacy), and 16th cent. (mass defections) all rolled into one. It's a great time to be a saint!” (Twitter, 6/15/21)
As the world whips itself into further frenzy, confusion and madness, the cross is the answer.
Saint Bruno, founder of the Carthusians, said in the 11th century, “While the world changes, the cross stands firm."
The 21st cent.- what a mess! Are you glad you’re here? I am. Let’s get to work and be saints!
While many will read the book picking up on the “sainthood, why not me?” message. Others will take it a step further and say, how can I not only live a life of greater imitation of the saints, but how can I be a “saint-maker” – to inspire, encourage others to live as saints.
No. Recognizing that if one speaks honestly with another about important things, it’s entirely possible that what you’re saying will contradict what they expect and what they see. It’s likely that they’ve formed a worldview growing up in a particular culture, and with a particular non-Catholic religion. “Trust me about the benefits of authentic Catholicism” is easy to say, especially when one means it, but it is stipulated that it is hard to hear.
Cardinal John Henry Newman said Catholicism is the “one true fold of the Redeemer.”
Father John Hardon said, “We Catholics are in possession of the fullness of truth. Before God we have a duty to defend the truth and share what we possess, because this is the highest practice of charity.”
I believe I was nudged to write a book inviting all people of good faith to lead lives of greater devotion to Christ, his bride the Catholic Church, and in greater conformation and more pleasing service to God the Father.
Eleven. English, Latin, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Gaelic, Greek, Dutch/Flemish, Austrian and Japanese.
When the culture is swamping your boat with waves of garbage and nonsense, living a life of greater virtue, perhaps even heroic virtue, is the path to rescue and, ultimately, safe harbor.
Some people won’t be interested in Against the Grain as an eternal life preserver. Some people want reassurance and pity, not an open door to walk through. Against the Grain opens doors to walk through. Metaphorically, Against the Grain is a walk through the centuries chatting about saints, Catholic history, virtues, some of the past events in my life, and current events.
Will you walk with me, and read this book? If you do, tell your family and friends that you read Against the Grain and that you are more determined to live a life of greater virtue. Buy a copy for someone you love and pray for them a life lived with greater virtue.
The modernist church, social justice warrior, “love is love,” pro-abortion crowd, etc., doesn’t want you to know about this book, let alone read it. Why?
The first rule to help promote Against the Grain is to talk about Against the Grain. Being a Catholic in today’s world is awkward. We don’t fit in. So let’s put that one right out there on the table. Being a good Catholic requires us to be signs of contradiction. As Catholics, we are commissioned to have the uncomfortable conversations. That is when Catholics are at our best, bringing souls to Christ, and making disciples of all nations.
Will some people not want to talk about the book? Sure, but why? Because it might jeopardize their status? Their relationships with family and friends? Possibly. But what is the point of life other than to get to heaven (be a saint), and to bring as many souls along with us as we possibly can (be a saint-maker).
Think about the potential positive impact you could have buying Against the Grain for a child, a wayward niece or nephew, or a friend who is struggling with their faith trying to live a life of greater virtue. If they were to be put on a path if increased holiness, what would that mean to you?
As Saint Bernadette Soubirous said in 1870 when asked what do you fear, responded, “I only fear Bad Catholics.” So many Catholics today are steering others away from heaven. So many complacent, non-charitable Catholics won’t make it to heaven. My greatest fear, and what haunts me, is souls lost for all eternity.
“Against the Grain delivers in a different way that you’d hope a book with this title would. The audiobook is even better… It’s engaging, powerful and resonates deeply. Grane has given us a deeply researched narrative, a book that will change the way you see your faith and your relationship with humanity. It’s about an epic struggle and mostly, about our future. To the casual reader Against the Grain seems to be about a few obscure characters through the centuries, but it’s not. It’s about each of us and the values we can choose to bring with us to the future.
I’m glad books like this persist in a world that’s in too much of a hurry to get the tldr (too long didn’t read) treatment. Sit for a bit with Against the Grain. Definitely a fine use of your time and attention.”
“God has created men according to His image and likeness. The sin of Adam and Eve and our individual sins have damaged this image and likeness. Jesus Christ, the Incarnated God and Savior of mankind, restored the beauty of that image and only through Him, in Him and with Him man can achieve the likeness of God, which means holiness. The only sure way to heaven is the way of holiness, that means the imitation of the life and the virtues of Christ.
Every Christian has the most noble vocation to be like Christ. The imitation of Christ contains necessarily the love for the cross of Christ. God is marvelous in His Saints. The Saints demonstrate to us that holiness is possible in every age, in every circumstance, in every state of life. Even many great sinners became true Saints. This gives hope for everyone.
Doug Grane presents in his masterful work amazing examples of Saints from all periods of time with their main characteristic of a joyful fearlessness and unshakeable trust in God in midst of difficulties and persecutions. May this book be a help to awaken in our time new examples of Saints, whom the Church of our day so urgently needs for her authentic renewal.
I strongly recommend this excellent book. The Catholic Church and our world needs more heroic virtue, it needs more courageous souls, it needs saints!”
“It is said that each of us is the combination of the five people we spend the most time with. Doug Grane, in “Against the Grain,” asks each of us whether we spend time with God’s saints? If we want to be a saint, we must learn from them, emulate them, and befriend them! His book offers powerful insights into their lives and virtues that allows us to do just that.
“Dear Family, no matter what storms rage against us, be saints. Pray for all of our cancelled priests. Stand for the truth. Especially when they call you "divisive and ineffective."
At that point double down, be signs of contradiction, go against the grain, and live lives of heroic virtue. Doug Grane's "Against the Grain" is an excellent read - and highly recommended."
“Many individuals remember records which boasted “Mozart’s greatest hits” or “Beethoven’s greatest hits,” each record just giving a hint of the composers works. Mr. Doug Grane’s book “Against the Grain” is a masterful work touching upon some of our Church’s greatest “hits” viz, “Our Saints.” Selected well known Saints lives of virtue, are presented in a unique way, making them accessible to young and old in a spirit which the world finds threatening. The Saints chosen did go “Against the Grain” while leading so many individuals to heroic lives of virtue. I trust you will find this volume a treasure trove of spiritual insight assisting you, by inspirational writing, to lead a life of greater virtue and dedication to following Christ by “going against today’s grain.”
“Catholics and Orthodox have a relationship with the saints which strikes many non-Catholics as somewhere between idolatrous and extraneous. Why not just honor God? Why all the extra to-do about saints? This book written by Doug Grane gives the basic reason God makes a fuss about saints. To love Him is to love those He loves. To praise them is to praise their God. It's not a zero sum game. Jesus Christ came to make sinners - saints. When an artist works that hard, it's hardly polite to ignore his masterpiece. This book will introduce you to God’s masterpieces- God's dream team... Psalm 148:14 (RSV) “…praise for all his saints...” God Love you.
“Against the Grain by Doug Grane is not your typical ‘Lives of the Saints’; neither is it your typical Church history, nor even your typical devotional book. But it does manage in a uniquely fascinating way to combine the best features of all three types of books and gel into one monumental read. What Against the Grain does best is situate some of the most unique and powerful (and sometimes little-known) saints in their historical context. And then with a disarming breeziness, bring the text to the present to make contemporary cultural and spiritual applications for the reader. It is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing book. The reader will profit well.”
“Not since G.K. Chesterton’s St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas has a Catholic provided such inspiring insight into the lives of the great, holy heroes of the Catholic Church’s history. From an inspiring analysis of Saint Martha and her true friendship with Our Lord to the little known story of Saint Carlo Acutis, Grane gives the tradition minded Catholic a quest: are we humble enough to truly learn the lives of the Saints and attempt to become saintly as a result?; and the ho-hum Catholic a challenge: why have you ignored, indeed avoided the magnificent gift that Christ, through the lives of the Saints have left us and thus the chance to follow them as His friend!? Part hagiography. Part challenge to action. Against The Grain is a book I dare Catholics to read.”
“Christ calls each of us to perfection (cf. Mt. 5:48), to holiness (cf. 1 Pet. 1:16; Lev. 11:44), which we can attain through the practice of the virtues. But how to practice the virtues poses a challenge. Here we can look to the Saints: their lives of ardent charity, steadfast fortitude, and profound humility provide us with inspiration and offer us models to imitate. In each chapter of Against the Grain, Doug Grane offers the reader a concrete vision of Christian perfection, of holiness, through the lens of a particular virtue embodied in the life of a Saint in every century from the first to the present. To this he adds numerous quotes on each virtue from a variety of Saints, insightful commentary on our present cultural crisis, along with sound advice and a firm exhortation (“Virtue Challenge”) for the reader himself to practice the virtue exemplified by the Saint in that chapter. This book makes for a great read for both young and old.”
"Doug Grane is the kind of Catholic layman we need nowadays, but have in fact far too few of. He has fought for integrity in Catholic education, the sanctity of marriage, and the safety of unborn children. Now he contributes this book as a guidepost for the perplexed in a time when theological authorities are pumping out lavender smoke, acclaiming globalist idols, and suppressing traditional liturgies. I highly recommend this book for Catholics seeking solid fare, genuine uplift, and sound moral encouragement."
"You will really enjoy Douglas Grane's book Against the Grain, which encompasses solid spiritual food for those seeking to grow more deeply in love with Christ. For those who do not know or understand our Catholic Faith, this is a wonderful book to delve into as a history lesson from the early church describing those saints and heroes who to this day, continue to give us courage, strength, and hope. The saints written of in Mr. Grane's book lead us, through their example, to the witness of both the ‘red and white martyrdom’ which is a beautiful pathway to eternal life. Isn't that what it is all really about? Enjoy and strengthen your armamentarium as you read Against the Grain. For, I believe, the battle is there ahead of us. To all those faith-filled Catholics and other Christians who serve Christ, and not the world, enjoy!”
"In every chapter of history, you'll find crowds rushing to do whatever it takes to fit in -- even if it means being casually cruel to innocent people or abandoning vulnerable neighbors in their hour of need. In Against the Grain, Doug Grane introduces us to the ones who found a way out of that: The Saints. They're the ones who didn't lose focus, who didn't allow themselves to be deformed by the evils of their times, and who in the end left us with all the lessons we need to follow in their footsteps in our own historical moment. No Catholic should feel lost. Buy this book and start getting to know the role models who got it right.”