Catechesis yesterday afternoon was about the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. And led on into a consideration of the Eucharist. The programme we use had a three step procedure: the story itself (with Jesus explaining Scripture and then breaking bread); thinking about what it means to break bread in memory of Jesus, or to recognise Jesus in the the breaking of bread; and a consideration of Sunday Mass. The middle step was supposed to let them grope towards the conclusion, brainstorming about the question "How might we go about 'remembering Jesus' or 'recognising Jesus' in the 'breaking of bread'?" before getting all explicit about the Mass, and Jesus's presence in the Eucharist.
But the youngsters were a step ahead of me, two or three of them immediately identifying the story as Eucharistic (it probably helps that they also have RE in school). Their brainstormed list of 'what we would need to remember Jesus' turned out to be: a church, an altar, bread, wine, the Scriptures, a priest, a diocese, the Pope, Faith, Hope, Charity, "being present", "quiet", and "being together". Oh, and one of them suggested "Easter eggs" - I'm starting to worry about him. They even identified the parish priest (by name) as taking on the role of Christ in explaining the Scriptures and breaking bread.
At every stage I queried their answers, "Do we need that? Can we manage without it?" They conceded that a church and an altar were not strictly necessary (private houses and tents will both do at a pinch, or a table or any other flat surface - one of them remembering Mass at camp); all the rest they considered non-negotiable. When I queried whether the Pope was strictly necessary to Eucharistic celebration one of them got quite indignant (a boy with an Italian surname; how relevant might that be?). Even Luke's account of the disciples returning from Emmaus mentions Simon! I wasn't expecting a bunch of brainstorming 11-year-olds to come up with "No Mass without Rome", and I'm sure the course designers would be pretty surprised too.
More soberingly, two of them (four years after First Communion) claimed never to have heard that Christ is present in the Eucharist. I wish I could assume it was just because they hadn't been paying attention.
Come Wednesday it's Bible study in the parish again: the Cleansing of the Temple. The literal meaning aside, Bede sees it as the cleansing of worldly concerns from the Temple of the Holy Spirit (probably not just Bede, but Bede is certainly among those who so consider it). Perfect for Lent.