While the muttering didn't strike me as very odd at the time (I thought he was practicing his Homily), the occasional kissing of the items kind of did. It wasn't until later that I learned the reason behind it all.
According to paragraph 119 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (G.I.R.M.), the vestments worn by a priest during Mass include an amice, the alb, the stole, the chasuble, and a cincture (for anyone interested, the G.I.R.M can be downloaded here).
Below is a description of the garment and the suggested prayer to be said while performing the action or putting the garment on. (Prayers and descriptions taken from the Handbook of Prayers)
Washing his hands:
The celebrant washes his hands and asks for the grace of purity.
Prayer: "Give virtue, O Lord, to my hands, that every stain may be wiped away; that I may be enabled to serve you without defilement of mind or body."
A rectangular piece of white cloth, is the helmet of salvation and a sign of resistance against temptation. The priest usually kisses it and passes it over his head before putting it across his shoulders and tying it around his waist.
Prayer: "Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil."
A white linen tunic which cover the priest's whole body, signifies perfect integrity.
Prayer: "Purify me, O Lord, from all stain and cleanse my heart, that, washed in the blood of the Lamb, I my enjoy eternal delights."
A cord which fastens the alb to the waist, stands for purity.
Prayer: "Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me."
The long band that fits around the neck, is a symbol of immortality and the sign of the dignity of the ministerial priesthood.
Prayer: "Restore to me, O Lord, the state of immortality which was lost to me by my first parents, and, although I am unworthy to approach your sacred mysteries, grant me nevertheless eternal joy."
The outermost vestment worn by the celebrant at Mass, is the emblem of charity, which makes the yoke of Christ light and agreeable.
Prayer: "O Lord, who said, "My yoke is sweet and my burden light," grant that I may carry it so as to obtain your grace. Amen."
Maybe it'd be a good idea for everyone to pray while we dressed each morning.
But I can't help but wonder what kind of response I'd get if Mrs. Serviam! saw me kiss my belt and while putting it on praying, "Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me."
Money says I'd have more than an amice wrapped around my neck.