Art does not merely imitate nature. Art imitates grace perfecting nature.
Contemplation ultimately reminds us that every point of the finite is open to the infinite. And if the two can and do fully interpenetrate, then the old maxim that art imitates nature (in the analogical sense) can be more profoundly understood and restated as art imitates grace perfecting nature. The role of art thus becomes a visual safeguard of gratuity over-against every functionalism or reductionism or essentialism, a continual reminder that everything is gift, and that our every response should be one of gratitude (for art is essentially a response of gratitude for creation arising from a love of beauty). It is here that sacred art and architecture are called to bear specific witness by calling the individual and the community to a universal act of gratitude in the imitation of the Christological form through the highly personal, specific, ritualized form of the liturgy.