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Lenten faster: Giving up soda addiction

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 7, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 6, 2014 at 9:07 p.m.

Gilbert Ramon chose to give up soda for Lent this year.

The 40-day Lenten season kicked off Wednesday, propelling millions of sacrifice-minded Christians into a period of fasting and prayer.

Fasting during Lent pertains to diet, extracurricular activities or anything that may distract believers from spending more time concentrating on their faith.

For the next few weeks, the Advocate will feature Lenten fasters who have committed to giving something up until the season breaks Easter Sunday.

Here's a look at the season's second Lenten faster, Gilbert Ramon.

Name: Gilbert Ramon

City: Inez

Age: 43

Occupation: Retired Marine Sergeant

Religion: Catholic

Fast: Soda

Have you always observed Lent?

Faithfully. I've always tried since I was young. The toughest time was when I was deployed in Iraq, and I chose to give up bacon. In Iraq, we were limited in the nice things in life, so we'd look forward to breakfast. All my Marines would tease me when they found out I gave up bacon for Lent. They would get bacon and show it to me and tell me how good it was. But I kept my promise while I was there. And I made up for it after Easter. I ate a lot of bacon.

Why is it important to give something up for Lent?

It is very important. Jesus did it. He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before he died. Giving up something small for Lent is nothing like what he did, but it just reminds us that we're observing the season by doing it.

How did you go about selecting your fast?

You know it's changed every time I've thought about it. I considered sweet tea and things that are really pleasurable, like Facebook. I thought maybe I should give up Facebook, but I do a lot of networking on Facebook. My wife said I wouldn't be able to make it. But then I decided to give up Coke, Dr. Pepper, any kind of soda.

Is that a big sacrifice for you?

It is for me. I have a three-a-day minimum of regular Coke. I need the caffeine. I don't drink coffee; that's why I do it, so I start drinking them early in the morning, and I've been doing it about two years now. I know it's not good for me. When Easter comes, I'm hoping not to do it much by then.

How have you been preparing for your fast?

I've been pre-quitting, trying to wean myself off them. When I feel like I want one, I don't take it, and I'll drink tea or water, vitamin water. I'm down to one Coke.

What do you hope you'll gain from this sacrifice?

That I should remember what Christ did for me not just on Christmas and Easter but every day. Lent should be a daily remembrance of that. I'm going to make the sacrifice, and I'm going to stick to it. If I can do it in Iraq, I can do it here.

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