The context of meaning surrounding the word “Advent” also includes the word visitatio, which in itself simply means “a visit” but since oldest times has been rendered in German as Heimsuchung [“visitation”, in the sense of “affliction”].
In this regard a remarkable shift in our understanding has occured: the term Heimsuchung has all but lost the joyous content of “visiting”: we no longer pay attention to its original meaning but understand Heimsuchung in the sense of calamity and distress, seen as God’s judgment. In fact, it ought to be the other way around: the word Heimsuchung, visitation, ought to make us aware that even hardship can contain something of the beauty that is Advent.
Illness and suffering, jsut like great delight, can become occasions, as it were, of an intimately personal Advent – a visitation by God, who enters into my life and wants to turn to me. Although it may be difficult, we should nonetheless try just once to see our days of illness in such a light: the Lord has interrupted my activity for a while to calm me down.
The visitation of the Lord – illness may perhaps take on another face if it is understood as part of Advent. We rebel agains it not only because it brings us pain or because being confined and lonely is hard to bear. We rebel, because we have so many important things to accomplish, because it seems so senseless. But it is not at all senseless. Within the context of human life, illness has its profound meaning. It may be God’s own moment in our life, a time when we are open to him and thus are led to find ourselves as well.
From: Licht, das uns leuchtet, pp. 13-15