Spiritual magic offered at St. Al’s Halloween service

Father Mark Davis of St.
Aloysius church in Bowling Green, who will be performing a magic show on Halloween. (Photo: Aaron
Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)

Father Mark Davis, pastor of St. Aloysius Catholic Church, finds magic in his role as a spiritual leader.
He also, on occasion, uses magic to help illustrate God’s mystery.
The public is invited to see some of that magic on Halloween night as the priest will lead a
"Magical Prayer Service" for All Hallows Eve, a religious celebration of the saints.
On Oct. 31, following the regular 5 p.m. Mass, the church will be open at 7:30 p.m. for trick or
treaters. In addition to the treat, those stopping by will be invited to light a candle and say a prayer
in memory of a loved one. The prayer service including some of Davis’ magic will begin at 8:15 p.m. The
public is invited.
This will be the third consecutive year Davis has held a similar service. After becoming pastor of the
church July 1, 2007, Davis used his theatrical background and performed some magic for the youth of the
church during their Wednesday night program. Halloween fell on Wednesday that year, so the children were
invited to come dressed for the party as saints. It is now a tradition.
Davis says he tries not to do the traditional magic with card tricks and pulling items out of a hat. Not
that he is incapable of such things – he is; however, he sees himself as a storyteller.
"I see magic as an everyday thing," Davis said. "I encourage people to enter into the
magic around us."
While the priest certainly does not consider God’s works to be magic, he does find some parallels. Davis
noted how "evil" can trick people to think they are seeing or believing something which is not
true. He also noted how many magicians are pastors of some kind.
"I think God is always happening in angels and saints. All of this is happening around us and we
don’t see it," he stated.
Similarly he can illustrate through his magical stories how things are happening in his magic that we
cannot see or explain; yet it is happening still the same.
In many ways it reminds one of the biblical story of "Doubting Thomas," Jesus’ disciple who
wanted to see for himself after Jesus’ resurrection.
"Blest are those who have not seen, but believe," Jesus told Thomas and the other disciples.
John 20:29.
So too, Davis, as pastor or magician, asks people to enter into the faith and be open to expand their
thoughts and beliefs beyond what they can see and touch.
He noted how magic is based on one’s experiences. To a 3-year-old, he said magic is simple. Pulling a
coin out of the air is not much different than using a remote to turn on the television.
"Everything is magical for them. I have been always drawn to things that look real," Davis
said.
"A magician’s job is to set the table and invite people in to this illusion; to help them to see
something that looks magical. I want to invite people to enter and experience something deeper,
something magical beyond us," he said. "And especially as priest, that’s exactly what I
do."
He added that in the sacraments he invites people in to experience God.
"They really are very similar. Part of the experience of magic and illusion is getting people not to
care how it’s done," he said.
The priest further explained that in magic, he wants people to let go, get involved and enter into the
entertainment experience; while in a parish he wants people to let go, get involved and enter into the
experience of God and become more aware of the mysterious invisible God.
The priest entered into the seminary at the age of 31, and was ordained in June 1996.
Since he was 5, Davis said he had a fascination with magic. He entered the entertainment field including
as magician, balloon artist and working with puppet theater.
Yet, he said he also knew there was a spiritual yearning to be a preacher.
"The older I got, the more I realized God was calling me to this," he noted.
At the Halloween service, considering a likely younger audience, he may perform more of his simple magic.

"I was a philosophy and psychology major; my magic is much less about colors and jokes, and more how
can we have fun and experience something that reminds us there is something beyond," he summarized.

People always want to know how a magic illusion is done. It’s our human need to know everything. Davis
said we need to be reminded about observing the sabbath in the Jewish tradition.
"In Jewish mind-set, that’s the whole point of sabbath, to take one day off from work and admit you
can’t do it all. You take the time off to let God refuel you."