Review of LabOra Worship

LabOra™ Worship.  Version 3.9.  Catholic Liturgy Planning and Preparation Software.  Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2001.  CD Rom.  User Guide.  Overview Guide.


Prayer takes work, as surely as ora resembles labora.  A good celebration of the Eucharist requires much planning and preparation, a knowledge of resources and a love for prayer.

It also helps to have computer skills.  The harried liturgical planner who keeps records of the past while planning the present with an eye to the future will certainly want to give LabOra Worship a look.

LabOra Worship is a software package to assist in planning liturgies, selecting music, preparing bulletins and cue sheets, and writing homilies.  It also helps distribute information by email or snail mail.  LabOra Worship includes all lectionary readings for every day of the liturgical year, indices of hymn titles, copyright information, hymn suggestions, clip art, presidential prayers from the sacramentary, and pertinent templates.

The detail-planning feature reminds the user of many options that might otherwise be ignored.

Although LabOra Worship offers a lot, it still does not accomplish everything.  Not all the liturgical texts are in the database.  The program does not include the catechumenate texts, for example, so it offers no help to those preparing scrutiny rites during Lent or preparing the rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens.

It allows the user to make a schedule of ministers, but the software is not sophisticated enough to remember that Amber can serve on Sunday mornings but not on Saturday nights, that Gregor cannot read scriptures on the third Sunday of each month, and that the Jones family is always gone during the month of August.  The user still needs to remember all this and enter the data by hand.  Entering is done by a click of the mouse, so that part is simple, but keeping track of dozens of ministers is still the liturgy planner’s nightmare.

The homily-writing feature gives users a biblical concordance and connects them to some ideas from another product from The Liturgical Press, Living Liturgy.  The accessibility of these ideas and the scripture texts is certainly a plus.  But those who write out a homily probably use a more advanced word-processing program.

There were some small annoyances in the demo: the misspelling of “annointing”, the appearance of green vestments on Ash Wednesday, and some commands that seemed impenetrable on first use (“Branch with items”).

But the clipart is quite fine and the ready accessibility of all the lectionary texts for the year is a bonus.  If you need to know the readings for a weekday five months from now, a simple click of the mouse will give you the readings themselves, not just the citations.

The copyright information is quite cool.  Click on a hymn title and the rights scroll across the bottom of the screen.

The sample penitential rites are fine.  One wonders why sample general intercessions were not included.

All in all, LabOra Worship is a good product, but not yet the one that will make liturgy planning a snap.  And maybe it shouldn’t be a snap.  Good planning takes time.  Tools help, but they do not eliminate the need for thought, prayer and work.

[This review first appeared in ParishWorks 5/4 (April 2002):1-2.]

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