Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 1018–1031 | Cite as

Reactions and Strategies of German Catholic Priests to Cope with Phases of Spiritual Dryness

  • Arndt Büssing
  • Jochen Sautermeister
  • Eckhard Frick
  • Klaus Baumann
Original Paper

Abstract

We investigated strategies of 763 Catholic priests (response rate 36%) to deal with phases of spiritual dryness, specifically their reactions toward these feelings, and which strategies were used. Most priests have found strategies to cope with feelings of spiritual dryness. Those who have managed to overcome these phases were stimulated “all the more to help others” and experienced “deeper spiritual clarity and depth.” Whatever strategy was chosen (we differentiated eight strategies in various combinations), there were no significant differences for priests’ self-efficacy expectation, transcendence perception or life satisfaction. Instead, we found significant differences for social support (F = 6.5; p < 0.0001) and somatization (F = 3.4; p = 0.002).

Keywords

Spiritual dryness Strategies Coping Catholic priests Life satisfaction 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to the supporting team, particularly Andreas Günther, Cécile Loetz and Jakob Müller for their gracious assistance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

This study was an investigator-initiated trial without any influence of Church authorities. It was not funded by any church authorities or related organizations. All authors are members of the respective universities; two of the authors are Catholic priests KB and EF working at universities as researchers. The authors disclose any financial or other competing interests.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the respective dioceses and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration.

Informed Consent

All individuals of this anonymously conducted cross-sectional study were informed about the study either by the personnel managers of the dioceses or by our independent study office and invited by a separate letter from our study office to participate. This separate letter informed about the purpose of the study, assured confidentiality, underlined their right not to participate, and asked to provide informed consent by providing the filed anonymous questionnaires.

References

  1. Abu-Raiya, H., Pargament, K. I., & Krause, N. (2016). Religion as problem, religion as solution: Religious buffers of the links between religious/spiritual struggles and well-being/mental health. Quality of Life Research, 25(5), 1265–1274. doi: 10.1007/s11136-015-1163-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unraveling the mystery of health. How people manage stress and stay well. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  3. Büssing, A., Baumann, K., Jacobs, C., & Frick, E. (2016). Spiritual dryness in catholic priests: Internal resources as possible buffers. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. doi: 10.1037/rel0000063.Google Scholar
  4. Büssing, A., Günther, A., Baumann, K., Frick, E., & Jacobs, C. (2013). Spiritual dryness as a measure of a specific spiritual crisis in catholic priests: Associations with symptoms of burnout and distress. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 246797.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Cobb, M. R., Puchalski, C. M., & Rumbold, B. (Eds.). (2012). Oxford textbook of spirituality in healthcare. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Daeschler, R. (1937). Aridité. In Viller, M., Cavallera, F., Guibert, J. de, Rayaz, A., Derville, A., & Solignac, A. (Eds.), Dictionnaire de Spiritualité ascétique et mystique, tome 1. Paris: Beauchesne.Google Scholar
  7. Derogatis, L. R. (2000). BSI 18, brief symptom inventory 18—Administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis: NCS Pearson.Google Scholar
  8. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personal Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ellison, C. G., Fang, Q., Flannelly, K. J., & Steckler, R. A. (2013). Spiritual struggles and mental health: Exploring the moderating effects of religious identity. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 23, 214–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Exline, J. J., Pargament, K. I., Grubbs, J. B., & Yali, A. M. (2014). The religious and spiritual struggles scale: Development and initial validation. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(208–37), 222. doi: 10.1037/a0036465.Google Scholar
  11. Franke, G., Ankerhold, A., Haase, M., Jäger, S., Tögel, C., Ulrich, C., et al. (2011). Der Einsatz des Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI-18) bei Psychotherapiepatienten. Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik, Medizinische Psychologie, 61, 82–86.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Frick, E., Baumann, K., Büssing, A., Jacobs, C., & Sautermeister, J. (2016). Spirituelle Trockenheit – Krise oder Chance? Am Beispiel der römisch-katholischen Priesterausbildung. Wege zum Menschen (submitted)Google Scholar
  13. Frick, E., Büssing, A., Baumann, K., Weig, W., & Jacobs, C. (2015). Do self-efficacy expectation and spirituality provide a buffer against stress-associated impairment of health? A comprehensive analysis of the German Pastoral Ministry Study. Journal of Religion and Health, 55(2), 448–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fydrich, F., Sommer, G., Tydecks, S., & Brähler, E. (2009). Fragebogen zur sozialen Unterstützung (F-SozU): Normierung der Kurzform (K-14). Z Med Psychol, 18, 43–48.Google Scholar
  15. Hinz, A., Schumacher, J., Albani, C., Schmid, G., & Brähler, E. (2006). Bevölkerungsrepräsentative Normierung der Skala zur Allgemeinen Selbstwirksamkeitserwartung. Diagnostica, 52(1), 26–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Koenig, H. G., King, D., & Carson, V. B. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kolodiejchuk, B. (2009). Mother Teresa, Come be my light. New York: Image.Google Scholar
  18. Langer, I. & Rogers, C. (2000). Das persönliche Gespräch als Weg in der psychologischen Forschung. Köln: GwG Verlag.Google Scholar
  19. Lüttich, S. (2004). Nacht-Erfahrung. Theologische Dimensionen einer Metapher. Würzburg: Echter.Google Scholar
  20. Mayring, P. (2010). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse: Grundlagen und Techniken. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McConnell, K. M., Pargament, K. I., Ellison, C. G., & Flannelly, K. J. (2006). Examining the links between spiritual struggles and symptoms of psychopathology in a national sample. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(12), 1469–1484.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., Tarakeshwar, N., & Hahn, J. (2001). Religious struggle as a predictor of mortality among medically ill elderly patients. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161, 1881–1885.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Proeschold-Bell, R. J., Yang, C., Toth, M., Rivers, M., & Carder, K. (2014). Closeness to God among those doing God’s work: A spiritual well-being measure for clergy. Journal of Religion and Health, 53, 878–894.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized self-efficacy scale. In J. Weinman, S. Wright, & M. Johnston (Eds.), Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs (pp. 35–37). Windsor: NFER-NELSON.Google Scholar
  25. Thibodeaux, M. E. S. J. (2010). God’s Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discover God’s Will. Chicago: Loyola Press.Google Scholar
  26. Underhill, E. (1990). Mysticism. A study in the nature and development of man‘s spiritual consciousness. Image Classic (reprint edition).Google Scholar
  27. Underwood, L. G., & Teresi, J. A. (2002). The daily spiritual experience scale: development, theoretical description, reliability, exploratory factor analysis, and preliminary construct validity using health-related data. Annals of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 24(1), 22–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Integrative Medicine, Faculty of HealthWitten/Herdecke UniversityHerdeckeGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of TheologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Department of Anthropological PsychologySchool of PhilosophyMunichGermany
  4. 4.Research Centre Spiritual Care, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  5. 5.Faculty of TheologyAlbert-Ludwig UniversityFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations