When Buddhist monks and nuns go out in public wearing their robes, they usually get some curious looks, but they’re not harangued for their vows of celibacy, and many folks (myself included) like seeing them and taking note of the fact that there are people who give up a great deal that is good and valuable and tender, in order to follow a Path. It’s not the path I choose, but I do like to see it.
Just so, when I see a priest in collar, or a seminarian in cassock, or a nun in her habit, I like it. It comforts me to know that they are out there—the people who are living Consecrated lives, the “necessary others” giving up so much that is good and valuable and tender, in order to Serve. There is something powerful in the silent Witness their attire proclaims. I have read interviews with young sisters who have reclaimed the wearing of the habit and have had wonderful encounters with people who are either pleased to see that Witness, or who ask them questions the nuns are happy to answer, as it clears up a lot of misinformation, or gives them a chance to talk about Jesus. They get some nonsense once in a while, too, but not so much, it seems as the priests do.