Parsch, Pius

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Leading Austrian liturgist and biblicist; b. Olmütz, Moravia, May 18, 1884; d. Klosterneuburg, Austria, March 11, 1954. Parsch became a Canon of St. Augustine at Klosterneuburg in 1904 and studied there until his ordination in 1909. He taught pastoral theology for a while, then served as a military chaplain during World War I.

Upon entering the order, he took the name Pius in honor of Pius X with whom he shared a love of Holy Scripture. Parsch not only taught Scripture, he also devoted his writings to it, including his doctoral dissertation and his best efforts after World War II, especially in the periodical he founded, Bibel und Liturgie. He shared Pius X's concern for bringing the liturgy to the people and making it understood by them. To this purpose, he devoted himself to the many editions of liturgical texts and numerous published explanations of the liturgy that made his monastery a liturgical center of Austria, and indeed of all the German-speaking countries.

The name he gave his work, "Popular Liturgical Apostolate," is noteworthy. It pinpointed his main concern; it was not for research, nor for monastic or academic liturgical forms, much less for liturgical reform. His energy was spent in an apostolate for the Christian people, to bring them to both interior and exterior participation in the liturgy. He aimed at vanquishing liberalism in Austria by unfolding the mysteries of faith and grace. He sought these goals by means of an ideal form of worship celebrated daily in the little Church of St. Gertrude in Klosterneuburg. Because he concentrated on the popular aspects of the liturgical revival, he occasionally risked superficiality in his explanations, which in part have been brought up to date by later research. Parsch was a pioneer in his insistence on an intimate connection between liturgy and Scripture. He came upon this not only through his own scriptural training and teaching, but also through his realization that the people can be brought to an understanding of the liturgy only by a knowledge of Scripture.

His spirit and work have been a major influence on popular liturgical movement throughout the world. Chief among his works are The Church's Year of Grace (Collegeville, Minn. 195358; first in German in 1929); The Liturgy of the Mass (St. Louis 1936; rev. ed. 1957); The Breviary Explained (St. Louis 1952; first in German in 1940); Seasons of Grace (New York 1963); and Volksliturgie (Klosterneuburg 1940).

Bibliography: Ephemerides liturgicae 68 (1954) 256257. t. warnung and t. schnitzler, "In memoriam Pii Parsch," Liturgisches Jahrbuch 4 (1954) 230236. g. zunini, "Apostolato liturgico in azione; le conquiste del P. Parsch," Ambrosius 5 (1929) 2632.

[t. schnitzler]