Can a catechumen burn hell notes to their ancestor?


Hell note means Hell bank note. Only those bank notes with the Emperor of Hell’s seal is recognised in hell.


I am assuming the hell in Chinese culture is not equivalent to the way the word hell is used in the West.

Hell, in the parlance of the West is a place of eternal torment. I don’t think it is the same in Chinese culture.

Is that correct?


I think it matters little what the culture is. The OP needs to decide if they wish to become Catholic or not. We all have a culture. But how has your faith changed the way you view your world. Including something as heavily spiritual as ancestor rituals for the dead. OP, have a Mass said for your ancestors. That is far more powerful and correct than taking part in a tradition you don’t believe in.


“Hell” used here, is analogous to Sheol in the Scriptures: a place where all the dead go and are judged according to their works.


This appears similar to the Catholic view of Purgatory, where people who have died may be assisted by our prayers, to be perfected and enter God’s presence in heaven.

@Rutherford2, The discussion in this thread calls to mind St Paul’s message to the people of Athens. Paul saw that they were very religious, and complimented them. Then he invited them to go further, to recognize God, as revealed by Jesus, the Christ, who rose from the dead and offers the same to everyone who follows Him. (Acts 17: 22-31)

Are you called to share a similar message with your relatives?


Which leads me to believe this practice can be Christianized a lot easier than most posters are making it seem. Burn the money while offering a prayer for the repose of their soul. Can’t get more Catholic than that. I honestly can’t believe most people here telling this poster on nothing more than their own ethnocentrism to suck it up and abandon this tradition, and not a single one of them is citing any kind of ecclesiastical authority.

I sure hope the folks here never do anything pagan like leave flowers at the graves of their loved ones. After all, what need do the dead have with such temporal goods? Perhaps the Muslims are right and we’re idolaters for even making gravestones for the dead or crying at their funerals?


I didn’t realize we had so many experts on the theology of this practice. I’ve never heard of it before or know what is done or said at it


Guys, this is one of those things that has a lot of theological ramifications, not to mention historical ones. If somebody on the forums lives in a Chinese Catholic tradition, they would know a lot more about this. I do not know what is permissible and what is not, and I hesitate to bind burdens on the OP.


I think you should use a more Christian symbol. The sign of the Cross is recognized everywhere, even in Hell. At the name of Jesus every knee will bend, even in Hell.


In that case I would like to reiterate my suggestion that the OP burn papers with prayers offered for the repose of the souls of his ancestors. That will help them more than bank notes dedicated to the Emperor of Hell whoever that is.


I don’t feel any calling. Maybe not yet.


All I can seem to find after a few searches is this:

So here we have the bishops of Taiwan, in 1963 forbidding Catholics under their jurisdiction from burning Hell money. Whether this is still in force in Taiwan, or if it was ever extended to other jurisdictions I have no clue. OP, it’s probably wise if you go and ask your priest what the official policy is.


Yeah, that seems pretty definitive. I’d go with that.


Google is your friend.


How is your family accepting your conversion? Is there any way you can tell them you can’t offer hell notes, but that in the tradition you’re adopting it’s customary to pray for the souls of the dead, and you’ll do so for your ancestors while they’re offering the notes? Perhaps it’ll help mitigate it if they know you’re still considerate for your ancestors.


They are hardcore traditionalist to the core and wont tolerate other religion.


Sounds like you’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations if you want to be a Catholic.


Your path to being Catholic is full of rocks. I pray for you, for strength and courage and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I pray also for your family, that their hearts will be softened, and open to extend freedom to you to practice your faith. :pray:


The scripture says:

Set thy bread, and thy wine upon the burial of a just man, and do not eat and drink thereof with sinners. Tobit 4:18

This seems to be indicating some type of food offering for the dead, and approving it, although the most important meaning would be offering the bread and wine of the eucharist for them.

Burying and honoring the dead is a very important part of the catholic religion, something the elder St. Tobit was willing to die for, as seen in his story in Tobit (Tobias)

Also, in your situation I believe that 4 Kings (2 Kings) 4:17-19 applies:

And Naaman (someone just converted to the true religion) said: As thou wilt, but I beseech thee: grant unto me thy servant, that I may take of the earth the burden of two mules: for thy servant will no more make holocaust (burnt offering) or victim (sacrifice) to strange Gods, but to the Lord. But this only is it, for which thou shalt beseech the Lord for thy servant: When my maister shall go into the temple of Remmon, to adore, and he leaning upon my hand, if I shall adore in the temple of Remmon, he adoring in the same place, that the Lord pardon me thy servant for this thing. Eliseus (a man of God) said to him: Go in peace. He therefore went from him in the spring time of the earth.

You can think of burning the money as an act of sacrificing your material goods for your ancestors’ health, although this would be most appropriate if the goods actually had value to you. This was one of the reasons for the offerings in the old testament of the bible. The offerings for the departed however are offered to God on their behalf, not to them directly.



Rutherford, it’s not a good idea to ask questions dealing with your family’s cultural traditions here. This is primarily a US/ Western forum and most people here really don’t know anything about this other than what they read online. Your pastor is the one with experience who can guide catechumens in this circumstance.
Please talk to him.

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