At Catholic Culture there is an interesting piece by Jeff Mirus.
My emphases and comments:
“Pitiful Diatribes on Exterior Forms” Posted Oct. 27, 2008 1:28 PM by Dr. Jeff Mirus
If you argue endlessly about this or that form of the liturgy and can be satisfied with nothing less than what you regard as ideal, Pope Benedict wants to yank your chain. The comments in question were made in his preface to the first volume of a German language edition of his complete works, a volume collecting Joseph Ratzinger’s writings on the liturgy from his university days until his election as Pope. [NB: This is all second hand, and we must take as editorializing the "argue endlessly" and "yank your chain". But there is something useful here: arguing for X while being locked into a specific closed position. Most people who do that are not so well grounded in the larger picture.]
In the preface, Benedict wrote: “It would please me very much if the new publication of my writings on the liturgy could contribute to making visible the great perspectives of our liturgy, putting again in their place the small and pitiful diatribes on exterior forms.” [This restates what I mention above. There are reasons why Pope Benedict does what he does. The so-called "Benedictine arragment" of the altar for papal Masses is not merely a reflection of his personal preferences. Or rather, he has aligned his personal preferences to what he come to embrace theologically after reflecting for many years on the function of the Cross and our orientation at the altar. The real problems are raised by people who take stubborn stands on the basis of personal preference without sufficient reasons.]
Apparently Benedict had seriously considered removing nine pages from his book The Spirit of the Liturgy: An Introduction (2000), ["Apparently"?] which is the chief item in the first volume of the collected works. These nine pages covered his ideas on the orientation of the priest when celebrating Mass, and Benedict was concerned at the amount of petty and partisan controversy those pages generated. He did not want to see that happen again. [We must remember the sort of ridiculous blather that erupted from especially the progressivist side when Pope Benedict began to shift the orientation of the Mass, and when he celebrated ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel. The more traditional are also guilty of this to a degree when they claim victory on the basis not of really good arguments and reasons, but on the basis of their preferences.]
He hopes people will take a broader and more balanced view of the same issues when they are revisited in the collected works. His goal is to get beyond “often pedantic questions about one form or another” [It is hard to know what that means, out of context as it is. What is "form" here? Orientation of the altar? Extraordinary/Ordinary?] to a greater understanding of the cosmic significance of the liturgy, which “embraces together creation and history” with Christ at the center as Savior, on Whom we are all to be focused in liturgical prayer. For Benedict, this same cosmic significance ultimately lies behind every liturgical form. [Of course it does. And that is why he wrote what he wrote about ad orientem worship in Spirit of the Liturgy.]
I look forward to getting this text and checking out what the Holy Father wrote in the preface.
Our outward liturgical signs point to deeper realities. At all times during the Church’s liturgies, whether Holy Mass or others, we are, like Moses in Exodus 33, peering through a cleft in the rock at something mysterious beyond our ken. When the elements of liturgy do not foster the glimpse through the cleft, then something is wrong.
Also, the adage that that which is received is received in the manner of the one receiving is also to be applied. When your own approach and attitude (which you can choose to adjust) is to look at the liturgical action as a matter of curiosity, then something is lacking. Even a fascination by why the book is moved from one side to the other, or why a incense is used, can be a distraction, a turning away from the cleft, if that is all the farther you go. Interest must at a certain point move to awe. Until it does, great care should be taken before making monolithic statements about how liturgy should be done.