Julie, at Happy Catholic, has a great quote up today. Read the whole thing, but this is what really set me to thinking:
What Mary has chosen is not so much the contemplative life but the focused life. She is anchored, rooted in the unum necessarium, as the Vulgate renders this passage. The implication seems to be that, were Mary to help with the many household tasks, she would not be "worried and distracted" by them, since she could relate them to the center, and that, were Martha to sit at the feet of Jesus, she would still squirm with impatience since her spirit is divided. As is so often the case in the spirited life, the issue is not what they're doing, but how they're doing it. Indeed, the surest sign that something is off in Martha's soul is that she even tells God what to do!