While he was living on Athos, Paisius came to the conclusion that a critical problem affecting Orthodox life was the paucity of living elders who could provide guidance in the life of prayer that was directly founded on deep personal experience. He decided then that he should turn to the fathers as if they themselves were living spiritual elders. Their writings would give him the answers to his present need to find masters and teachers. At first, not knowing patristic Greek, he set out to organize and list all the Slavonic manuscripts he could find on Mount Athos. He found copies of the works of Hesychius of Jerusalem, Philotheus of Sinai, and Theodore of Edessa, and began a hand-written collation of them. But he wrote later to Archimandrite Theodosius of the Sophroniev hermitage in Russia, that his first steps in collating the fathers were “all in vain.” So he set himself to learn the difficult patristic Greek; and to this end studied with two of his Romanian disciples Macarius and Hilarion, who had mastered those language skills at the St. Sabas academy in Bucharest. Later at Dragomirna his study of Ancient Greek would be intensified.
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