Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Thy servant, Richard ...."

The Rev. Canon Richard J. and Gloria Lintner.

Several of us are off to Des Moines this morning to say our farewells to the Rev. Canon Richard J. Lintner, vicar emeritus at St. Andrew's, who died on Monday, coming to rest at last at age 88, begrudgingly I'd guess, after a long and busy life. The funeral Mass begins at 11 a.m. at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 3424 Forest Avenue.

I'm using the term "Mass" advisedly. Although never strident, Fr. Lintner could be quite the liturgical traditionalist. If Episcopalians ever had celebrated the Mass in Latin, which we haven't, he would have grumbled good-naturedly about the fact we no longer did. As it was, he was partial to Rite I and its "thees" and "thous."

And also to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Protestants have been known to swoon if the good lady's name is mentioned in church; Fr. Lintner was quite fond of her and  mentioned her often.

If you know where to look, you can find a photo of the tombstone in a rural Illinois cemetery behind which his condensed remains will come to rest eventually. The dates are inscribed in Roman numerals along with the imperative, "ora pro nobis." His obituary identifies him as the last known surviving member of the South Iowa Chapter of the Flat Earth Society.

On the other hand, his prized memberships included the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP and Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest legal organization working for LGBT civil rights.

Above all, however, he was a wise, kind and gentle man --- and a good priest. Ordained in 1953 he had, heaven knows, sufficient experience. He also enjoyed kicking the occasional sacred cow, and there are plenty of those roaming the streets of a place like Chariton.

We used to identify Fr. Lintner as the oldest still-operational priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, and he took that designation seriously. In addition to serving as vicar emeritus in Chariton he also worked as assisting priest at St. Luke's and was honorary canon to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.

Until his mid-80s, when self-propelled road trips became an issue, Fr. Lintner and his wife, Gloria, drove to Chariton one Sunday a month --- more often in cases of special events --- to officiate so that our then-vicar, the late Rev. Suzanne Palmer, could spend a full Sunday with her parishioners in Albia rather than dashing from one church to another as she did most weeks.

We're going to miss his dedication, his wisdom and his gentle presence.

O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Richard, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spriit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Burial of the Dead: Rite One)

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