This week’s Home Lesson has a section for older saints on the special meaning of each of the pieces of a priest’s vestment. It’s not mentioned in the lesson, but it’s typical for a priest to say a prayer related to these meanings each time he dresses for Mass. This version of the vesting prayer is from the Pontifical North American College’s Manual of Prayer:
Before he vests for Mass, the celebrant washes his hands and asks for the grace of purity.
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.
The amice, a rectangular piece of white linen 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 the waist.
Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.
The alb, a white tunic which covers the priest’s whole body, signifies perfect integrity.
Purify me, O Lord, from all stain and cleanse my heart, that, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may enjoy eternal delights.
The cincture, a cord which fastens the alb at the waist, symbolizes the virtue of purity.
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 stoke, the long band that fits around the neck, is a symbol of immortality and the sign of the dignity of the ministerial priesthood.
Restore to me, O Lord, the state of immortality which was lost to me by my first parents, and, although unworthy to approach your sacred mysteries, grant me, nevertheless, eternal joy.
The chasuble, the outermost vestment worn by the celebrant at Mass, is the emblem of charity which makes the yoke of Christ light and agreeable.
O Lord, you said, “My yoke is sweet and my burden light,” grant that I may carry it so as to obtain your grace. Amen.
* The Amice is an optional piece and is typically only worn if the alb is designed in such a way that it does not cover the priest’s neck.