A kind friend has sent me a little booklet from 1968, put out by the American bishops to prepare priests and people for the new Eucharistic Prayers, authorised by Rome that year. It appears to be a translation of something published by the Sacred Congregation of Rites.
It seems to flutter down out of another world ... a world in which it is anticipated that ordinary folks will henceforth go around referring to Eucharistic Prayers as "anaphoras"; in which parish priests will be giving catechesis on the various elements of a Eucharistic Prayer. Here's a jolly bit which you will all much enjoy: "The world-wide and ecumenical horizons of the Second Vatican Council and also those of the so-called theology of secular values will find here a discrete, biblical and real reflection".
One intriguing detail: it says "The third eucharistic prayer ... could be used alternately with the Roman Canon for [=on?] Sundays". If only ... if only ...
By 1986, Enrico Mazza in The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, was to write of the Roman Canon that "its use today is so minimal as to be statistically irrelevant".
But, when all is said and done, there was, back in 1968, a sense of excitement about the New, which you young things will find it hard to imagine. I remember buying with eager anticipation, just a few weeks after I was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, the first Vatican Press print of the Latin text of the new Ordo Missae.
(I bought it down in the dear old Newman Bookshop opposite Christ Church, where one could find in the back room such intriguing things ... I acquired a proof edition of Knox's In three tongues ... there were endless old copies of the Eastern Churches Quarterly and of Sobornost ... Someone called Timothy Ware was often scavenging there ... he told me he had managed to put together a complete set of the ECQ. I've often wondered what happened to him subsequently. He did Mods and Greats a couple of years ahead of me. He must be getting on a bit now, I suppose. I'm sure he has long-since grown out of his 'byzantine' phase, as most of us have.)
Exciting days, yes. Nowadays, the poor old Novus Ordo is anything but exciting and new. Arthritic, rather, and with poor wind, and suffering horribly from her varicose veins. It is time, surely, to euthanise and then respectfully to bury the poor dear old biddy and to hurry quietly away and to keep ones fingers crossed that no-one digs her up. A stake through the heart, posibly, would be a wise precaution.