Although much is known about the frequency of the spiritual activities of pastoral workers, less is known related to how important specific spiritual and existential practices are to pastoral workers personally or existentially. This part of the German Pastoral Ministry Study analyzed (1) which forms of spiritual activities were regarded as important, (2) how the perceived importance of religious practices related to frequency of engagement in spiritual practices, and (3) how these practices contributed to the life satisfaction of ordained priests and of non-ordained pastoral workers. Participants included 1826 Catholic pastoral workers, composed of 65% priests and 35% (non-ordained) pastoral assistants and parish expert workers. Prosocial-Humanistic practices scored highest in importance, followed by Gratitude/Awe, Existentialistic practices, and Religious practices; specific forms of Spiritual Mind-Body practices were not relevant. Differences in the frequency and ascribed importance of spiritual practices between ordained and non-ordained pastoral workers were identified, as well as a surprising lack of connection between religious practices and their proclaimed importance, particularly of Prosocial-Humanistic and Gratitude/Awe practices. These findings may stimulate further research into the underlying causes of these differences between priests and other pastoral workers and between the frequency and importance of spiritual practices in all groups, which in the researchers’ opinion indicate challenging inconsistencies with regard to the ideals of religious vocations.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Baumann, K. (2011). Caritas und Gemeinde: Vom gegenseitigen Fremdeln zur Wertschätzung [Caritas and parish. From mutual shyness with strangers to appraisal]. Lebendige Seelsorge, 62, 412–420.
Baumann, K. (2014). Caritas—Mehr als Sozialarbeit? Theologie und Proprium kirchlicher caritas [Caritas – more than social work? Theology and Proprium of ecclesiastic caritas]. In G. Dal Toso & P. Schallenberg (Eds.), Nächstenliebe oder Gerechtigkeit? Zum Verhältnis von Caritastheologie und Christlicher Sozialethik [Grace of charity or fainess? The relationship of caritas theology and christian social ethic] (pp. 103–118). Paderborn: Schöningh.
Büssing, A., Matthiessen, P. F., & Ostermann, T. (2005). Engagement of patients in religious and spiritual practices: Confirmatory results with the SpREUK-P 1.1 questionnaire as a tool of quality of life research. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 3, 53. doi:10.1186/1477–7525–3-53.
Büssing, A., Reiser, F., Michalsen, A., & Baumann, K. (2012). Engagement of patients with chronic diseases in spiritual and secular forms of practice: Results with the shortened SpREUK-P SF17 questionnaire. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 11(1), 28–38.
Büssing, A., Frick, E., Jacobs, C., & Baumann, K. (2015). Health and life satisfaction of Roman Catholic pastoral workers: Private prayer has a greater impact than public prayer. Pastoral Psychology, 65(1), 89–102. doi:10.1007/s11089–015–0672–2.
Büssing, A., Baumann, K., Jacobs, K., & Frick, E. (2016). Spiritual dryness in Catholic priests: Internal resources as possible buffers. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. doi:10.1037/rel0000063.
Cappellen, P. V., Saroglou, V., & Toth-Gauthier, M. (2014). Religiosity and prosocial behavior among churchgoers: Exploring underlying mechanisms. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 26(1), 19–30. doi:10.1080/10508619.2014.958004.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.
Eurich, J., Barth, F., Baumann, K., & Wegner, G. (2010). Kirchen aktiv gegen Armut und Ausgrenzung [Churches active against poverty and segragation]. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.
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. doi:10.1007/s10943–015–0040–7.
Glock, C. Y., & Stark, R. (1971). Religion and society in tension (5 ed.). Chicago: Rand McNally.
Huber, S., & Huber, O. W. (2012). The centrality of religiosity scale (CRS). Religion, 3(3), 710–724. doi:10.3390/rel3030710.
Lazar, A. (2015). The relation between prayer type and life satisfaction in religious Jewish men and women: The moderating effects of prayer duration and belief in prayer. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 25(3), 211–229. doi:10.1080/10508619.2014.920603.
Maltby, J., Lewis, C. A., & Day, L. (1999). Religious orientation and psychological well-being: The role of the frequency of personal prayer. British Journal of Health Psychology, 4(4), 363–378.
Nicholson, A., Rose, R., & Bobak, M. (2010). Associations between different dimensions of religious involvement and self-rated health in diverse European populations. Health Psychology, 29(2), 227–235. doi:10.1037/a0018036.
Pompey, H. (2007). Zur Neuprofilierung der caritativen Diakonie der Kirche. Die Caritas-Enzyklika “Deus caritas est”. [New profiling of caritative diakonia of the church. The caritas encyclical “Deus caritas est”]. Würzburg: Echter.
Rossetti, S. J. (2009). Born of the Eucharist. A spirituality for priests. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.
Rulla, L. M. (1971). Depth psychology and vocation. A psycho-social perspective. Chicago: Loyola University Press.
Schmidtchen, G. (1973). Priester in Deutschland. Forschungsbericht über die im Auftrag der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz durchgeführten Umfrage unter allen Welt- und Ordenspriestern in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Priests in Germany. Research report on a survey among all religious priests in the Federal Republic of Germany, commissioned by the German Bishops´ Conference]. Freiburg: Herder.
Second Vatican Council. Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (1963). Constitution approved by the Second Vatican Council, Vatican City. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html. Accessed 5 Oct 2015.
Underwood, L. G. (2005). Interviews with Trappist monks as a contribution to research methodology in the investigation of compassionate love. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 35(3), 285–302.
Underwood, L. G. (2011). The daily spiritual experience scale: Overview and results. Religion, 2, 29–50. doi:10.3390/rel2010029.
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, 24(1), 22–33.
Zwingmann, C., & Gottschling, S. (2015). Religiosity, spirituality, and God concepts. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 37(1), 98–116.
We are grateful to the supporting team, particularly Andreas Günther, Cécile Loetz and Jakob Müller for their gracious assistance.
This study was an investigator-initiated trial without any influence of Church authorities. All authors are members of their respective universities; three of the authors are Catholic priests (EF, KB, CJ) who work at universities as researchers. The authors have no financial or other competing interests to disclose.
About this article
Cite this article
Büssing, A., Frick, E., Jacobs, C. et al. Self-Attributed Importance of Spiritual Practices in Catholic Pastoral Workers and their Association with Life Satisfaction. Pastoral Psychol 66, 295–310 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-016-0746-9
- Spiritual practices
- Prosocial practices
- Pastoral workers
- Life satisfaction