There is a scene in the 2000 hit movie Gladiator where Richard Harris portraying the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is telling his son Commodus, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, that he is responsible for the immorality that so defines his son. Begging Commodus to understand and accept that he is not his choice to become emperor, Marcus Aurelius says to his son, "Your faults as a son are my failings as a father."
See — even Hollywood, awash in all its evil, understands that the sins of the father are indeed visited on the sons. But before considering the "visiting" aspect of that, it's best to first get a handle on the "sins" part.
The assault against the family has in large part been really an assault against paternity and maternity. It's just that when you attack those two dynamics, the collateral damage is going to be the family. Radical feminism could never have gotten off the ground if the masculine hadn't first been weakened — if the ground had not been tilled, so to speak, to accept the evil of militant feminism.
Men fell down in their roles of being guardian and protector — precisely the same scene that played out in the Garden at the beginning of our history. It was Eve, recall, who brought Adam the fruit. Instead of standing up to her and protecting the safety of Paradise, he forsook his duty. It is extremely important to note that it is called the sin of Adam, not the sin of Eve, even though the serpent first tempted Eve, and Eve was the first to fall. The higher duty to protect, to sacrifice, to guard belongs by nature to the man, and when he fails that duty, chaos ensues.
And in the sad repetitive nature of humanity, here we are again. However, this time, the consequences are multiplied exponentially. Technology has so increased the occasion for sin, has so increased its speed and multiplied its damage, that only a truly strong man can withstand the assault. And there is no such thing as a truly strong man in the face of evil who is not armored in the protection of Heaven and shielded by the Holy Catholic Church, which was established by Our Lord for this very reason: to shield us from evil.
He who dwells in the shelter of the most High and abides in the shade of the Almighty, say to the Lord my refuge, my God, my stronghold in Whom I trust.
It is he who will free you from the snare of the fowler who seeks to destroy you. The strength in being a moral man, the ability to resist evil does not lie within man; it comes from God. What does lie within man is the humility to recognize this truth, admit it, and flee to God for protection.
Fathers who do not impart this most simple of truths to their sons will end up saying of their sons — like Marcus Aurelius says of Commodus to Maximus — "Commodus is not a moral man." Could a father suffer a greater sadness than to say those words of his own, that he is not a moral man, that his own son's faults are his failings as a father?
Pray for fathers everywhere, that they will resist the snares of the devil by being giants of humility — strong men, strong in the knowledge and realization of their own weakness.